Survivors of the Mumbai train bombings yesterday spoke of watching helplessly as passengers hurled themselves from the still fast-moving train in blind panic after the first explosion, only to dash their brains out on the track below, so great was the horror of what had happened on board.
When the first bomb went off at about 6.30pm local time, the carriage would have been packed. It was rush hour on the busiest urban rail network in the world, and the city was being lashed by monsoon rains. At busy times, people don't just squeeze into a Mumbai train. They hang out of doors, clinging on with one hand.
They would have been the first casualties, blown off the train by the force of the blast. But it would have been worse inside, where the passengers cram in so tight that you sometimes have to stand with one foot on top of the other. Inside that crush a bomb went off a bomb powerful enough to tear the roof off the train. When the television cameras got to the site of the explosion, the train windows were covered in blood.
In the 10 minutes that followed, seven more bombs went off, from downtown Mumbai to the furthest suburbs. One went off in a passenger underpass at one of the busiest stations. "We heard a loud blast in one of the train compartments. When we rushed there and looked, we saw people with severed limbs and grievous injuries," a witness said. "There were no police or railway people to help."
Television pictures showed bodies lying by the tracks in the rain, while survivors lay nearby, groping for their mobile phones. Police emerged from the wreckage carrying gruesome bundles wrapped in bloodstained rags that can only have been severed body parts.
People rushed from all over Mumbai to help the injured. "There were so many, I couldn't really count," Sunny Jain told the BBC. "There are not enough ambulances and many people are making their own way to the station. They are coming in taxis and by foot."
As so many times before in a crisis, in the bombings of 1993 and 2003, it was the ordinary citizens of Mumbai who rushed to help. It was they who carried the wounded to ambulances.
But then this was an attack on the heart and soul of Mumbai. The trains are the lifeline of the city, carrying six million passengers a day. So gridlocked is the traffic that a journey which takes two hours by road takes 15 minutes by train, and everybody, from the richest Bollywood producer to the poorest slum-dwellers, takes the train at some time.Reuse content