Hurt, bleeding in Mumbai hospitals
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Hurt, bleeding in Mumbai hospitals

Pratika Shah rocked with grief and disbelief, tears streaming down her face, after hospital staff confirmed that her husband was among the victims of yesterday's bombings in Mumbai.

mumbai Updated: Jul 14, 2011 15:35 IST

Pratika Shah rocked with grief and disbelief, tears streaming down her face, after hospital staff confirmed that her husband was among the victims of Wednesday's bombings in Mumbai.

Surrounded by other distraught relatives at Saifee Hospital in the south of the city, Shah had last seen her husband, an estate agent, on Wednesday afternoon when he left home to meet some clients.

A few hours later he was dead, his body disfigured by a high-intensity blast in a diamond-trading district near Mumbai's abandoned opera house.

"He was showing two shops in the area that were available for rent. Before leaving home, he said he'd host a big party for his friends if the deals materialised," said 45-year-old Shah.

When she heard the Opera House district was one of the areas hit by three coordinated bomb blasts on Wednesday evening, Shah said she ran out the house barefooted.

Arriving at the blast site, where bodies were lying on the ground, surrounded by the the remains of shattered food stalls and mangled vehicles, she was told her husband had been taken to Saifee.

Her worst fears were confirmed when doctors said he was dead, and asked her to formally identify the body.

"I still can't believe that he is dead. This can't happen to us," she said.

The same grief-stricken scene was playing out Thursday morning at many of the dozen Mumbai hospitals scene which took in more than 130 people injured in the blasts that left 17 dead.

One medical report spoke of a body charred to the neck with only the face unscathed.

"We were flooded with cases," said Aditya Roychoudhary, a doctor at the KEM hospital. "A lot of people had been hit by nails, pieces of glass and metal pellets."

Salim Dharolia, the father of a 28-year-old diamond trader who was killed, was inconsolable as he waited for the hospital to release his son's body.

"I've lost my only son. He married two months ago. Why are the people of Mumbai being targeted all the time? What's our crime?" he asked.

But there was also defiance amidst the tears, as office workers went back to work under heavy monsoon rains and parents dropped their children off at schools, despite fears of further bombings.

"My office is open," said Ketaki Sathe, 45, a commodity market analyst at a private firm.

"What's the point of sitting at home? We would all just watch the news channels, discuss the incident and feel depressed," he said.

Housewife Reshma Rao said she had accompanied her 13-year-old daughter to school as usual.

"I was slightly hesitant but later I felt if everyone is back on the streets, there's no need to panic," she said.

The blast sites were cordoned off by police as forensic teams continued to sift through the rubble for evidence that might provide some lead to who was behind the bombings.

Elsewhere, the city's roads were as jammed with traffic as ever and shops opened for business.

But some said the strength and stoicism of Mumbaikers -- much praised after the 2008 attacks on the city that left 166 dead -- was actually the worrying product of an acquired imperviousness to horrific acts of violence.

"Everyone talks about the resilience Mumbaikars (Mumbai residents) show," said retailer Jerry D'Souza, who has lived in the city for 65 years.

"But to me, it means we've become machines and we operate under all circumstances," D'Souza said.

"This city is fast losing its charm. It's known for its stock market, Bollywood, but now it's also known for attacks."

First Published: Jul 14, 2011 14:48 IST