'The blast was so powerful my house shook'

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The Independent Online

Once again, as in Egypt and Bali, terrorists have chosen a scene where people are at their most relaxed and happy in order to visit death upon them.

Delhi's markets are teeming at even the hardest of times, but this Saturday, two days before the Hindu festival of Diwali and five ahead of the Muslims' Eid, they were at their most crowded as people swarmed round the stalls.

Sangeeta Kaul, a New Delhi resident, said: "The market was all flooded with people, people jostling with each other and everyone busy purchasing for their near and dear ones for the Diwali festival." And then the bombers struck.

The first bomb was in the main Paharganj market, a busy wholesale market, dotted with small, inexpensive hotels frequented by foreign travellers, particularly backpackers. Bradley Spencer of Manchester and his girlfriend were 50 metres from the huge blast, near one of the city's biggest railway stations. "Suddenly the explosion occurred, knocking me off my feet," he said. "People ran in all directions, screaming and in a state of shock. Shopkeepers and market-traders quickly closed their shops, with the market traders using their carts as makeshift stretchers."

Babu Lal Khandelwal, a local shopkeeper, said the blast knocked him to the ground: "There was black smoke everywhere. When the smoke cleared and I could see, there were people bloody and people lying in the street."

Relatives of those known to be in the area rushed to hospitals. Parvinder Singh was one, looking for his brother and sister-in-law. "I have seen their burnt scooter. I don't know whether they are dead or alive," he said.

The scene at Sarojini Nagar market, where the second of the three explosions occurred, was even more bloodily chaotic. The BBC's Paul Danahar reported: "The centre of Sarojini Nagar market has been gutted by the blast. Makeshift stalls ... have been blown away. The fire brigade here are still putting out the flames which engulf the low-rise shops in the shopping centre.

"I saw three charred and mutilated bodies being carried in makeshift stretchers away from the central market. But a policeman on the ground told me there were many more. These bombs were not targeted at seats of power or government ministers. They killed and injured ordinary, middle-class Indians."

Kiran Mohan, who lives 200 metres from where the blast occurred, said: "The blast was so powerful, my house shook."

At the third explosion, in Govindpuri, a largely industrial area in the south of the city, a police officer said the force of the blast shook the police station, despite it being some distance away.