Australians in Mumbai terror attacks tell their harrowing tales

November 27th, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Nov 27 (DPA) Australian soap opera star Brooke Satchwell described Thursday how she hid inside a bathroom cupboard as gunmen were shooting other guests at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel.Two Australians were in hospital and six members of a trade delegation were missing after multiple, coordinated terrorist attacks late Wednesday on 10 sites in India’s financial capital.

“I came back in [the hotel] and went via the bathrooms, which were on the ground floor next to the lobby, and as I stepped inside the lobby, gunshots were starting to go off,” the 28-year-old Neighbours actor told a local television station.

“There was probably about six of us in the bathroom, and everybody froze, and then I think adrenalin kicked in and it became pretty clear what was going on,” she said of the attack in which 101 people were killed and more than 200 injured.

“People started to lock themselves in the toilet cubicles, but at that point, that didn’t seem like a very clever idea. There was no way out.”

Satchwell found a small cupboard and hid inside.

“It was really terrifying,” she said. “There were people getting shot in the corridor. There was someone dead outside the bathroom.”

An Australian businessman said he spent five hours hiding under his bed after seeing gunmen open fire on fellow guests at Mumbai’s Oberoi Hotel.

“We started hearing all this banging, which we just thought were fireworks or something,” wine company executive Garrick Harvison told Australia’s national broadcaster ABC in a mobile telephone call from his Oberoi room.

“I went out, had a look and it was just bang-bang-bang like a semi-automatic rifle.

“When we looked over and found that it wasn’t fireworks - it was actually people shooting people - I just ran inside my room. From that point, for the next four of five or six hours, I heard gunshots and bomb blasts.”

At least 101 people were killed in the attacks and hundreds were wounded, authorities said.

Two Australians celebrating their graduation from Canberra’s Australian National University were injured, one catching a bullet in her thigh and the other grazed by a bullet.

Six members of a 13-strong Australian trade mission staying at the Oberoi Hotel were unaccounted for.

Acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean described the attacks as an “appalling assault” on India’s people and democracy.

“Whoever they are, they are condemned in the strongest possible forms,” he said. “This is a cowardly act. It’s indiscriminate. It’s a terrorist act.”

Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull also condemned the attacks, saying, “India is a very successful economy and to see these criminals trying to disrupt that in a mad, destructive way is tragic, and our hearts go out to the people of Mumbai, to all of the people who have been hurt, to the Australians who were there but also to the whole of India.”

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