'I saw around 20 bodies on the ground engulfed in smoke'
Kunal Mehta works for a diamond-trading firm in a building, whose office is on the first floor of the building next to Pancharatna Towers. When the blast occurred, he was sitting at his desk near the window, directly opposite the blast site. Kunal Purohit reports. They said | Witness speakmumbai Updated: Jul 14, 2011 03:30 IST
Kunal Mehta works for a diamond-trading firm in a building, whose office is on the first floor of the building next to Pancharatna Towers. When the blast occurred, he was sitting at his desk near the window, directly opposite the blast site.
“Around 6:45pm, as I was weighing diamonds at my desk, I heard a huge explosion. I first looked at the ceiling thinking that the building was collapsing.
“The diamonds on my weighing tray jumped out and fell to the ground. The window panes also shattered. I looked around and saw that two of my colleagues’ hands were bleeding because glass pieces from the window came flying towards them.
“The explosion was so loud that for the next five minutes I could not hear anything. I ran downstairs to see what had happened. I saw around 20 bodies engulfed in smoke.
“I also saw that a white car, which had earlier been parked on the side of the road, had been flung to the middle of the road because of the impact of the blast.
‘I haven’t told my wife about my injury’
Chirag Vora, 36, works for a diamond trading firm. His office is on the first floor of the building next to Pancharatna Towers. He was sitting at his desk near the window, directly opposite the blast site. He lives in Borivli and has a wife and two children.
“I was sitting in my usual place next to the window. Around 6:30 pm, I heard a very loud explosion, which I initially thought was a cylinder blast. But then the glass shattered and the air-conditioner fell down into the office. The impact sent the diamonds I was examining flying out of the weighing tray I had placed the in.
“I then noticed that my right hand was bleeding because glass pieces had pierced my skin. The doors of my office, which have an automatic locking system, also flew open. Although I was stunned and confused, I rushed out and climbed down the stairs. When I got down, I could see a lot of smoke and people lying on the ground. I was so stunned that I did not go anywhere close to them. I rushed to the Saifee hospital to get treatment. But once I got there, I saw a lot of other people who were bleeding profusely. I ran out of that hospital and went to a nearby nursing home where I was discharged after preliminary treatment. When my wife called to find out whether I was safe, I did not tell her my hand was injured since I didn’t want to worry her. She will only find out when I get home.
“I have been working in Opera House for 20 years now. I have never seen such panic and chaos among people here as today.”
Jayesh Labhdi works for a diamond trading firm
Jayesh Labhdi, in his 40s, he works in a building in an adjoining lane, a member of the Mumbai Diamond Merchants’ Association.
“At around 6:45 pm, I heard a huge sound. It sounded like gunfire.
“I ran outside the building to see whether it was a cylinder blast or whether a building had collapsed. “I reached the spot of the blast and all I could see that the whole lane was engulfed by smoke. As I looked closer, I saw about 35 bodies lying on the ground, some twitching. “I also saw parts of limbs.
“There is a lot of activity during this time in this bylane as people use it to get to Charni Road station. “I knew that this was a planned attack on the diamond community. I then ferried two victims to Saifee hospital in my car.”
(As told to Kunal Purohit)
First Published: Jul 14, 2011 02:08 IST