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We knew something terrible had happened: Indian tourist recalls the horror of Barcelona attack

An Indian media professional, who was holidaying in Spain was present near Las Ramblas at the time of the attack. Here’s the eyewitness’s account.

world Updated: Aug 18, 2017 13:58 IST
Etti Bali
Etti Bali
Hindustan Times
Barcelona,Spain,Las Ramblas
The area was cordoned off and police and ambulance services were on the attack site within seconds, says an eye-witness.(AFP Photo)

A van rammed into a crowded street in Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring over a 100 injured in a terror attack on Thursday. In a report in Hindustan Times, the head of the Spanish region of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont said two people had been arrested. It was still not clear how many attackers had been involved. This attack was followed by another attack in Cambrils, some 120km away from Barcelona.

Media professional Vivek Makker was holidaying in Spain with two friends, Shalabh Bhasin and Riaz Munshi when the attack happened. He gives us a first-person account of what unfolded at Las Ramblas.

“People wanted to run away and nobody knew what was happening”

“We were in Ibiza, and from there, we had come to Barcelona two days back. Las Ramblas is to Barcelona what Connaught Place is to Delhi. It’s kind of a walking street with shops, restaurants and cafeterias. It’s so packed at times that there is no space to even walk properly. Yesterday, at around 2pm, when the attack happened, we were there. We were having lunch at a place very close to the site of the attack. We saw loads of police vans and police personnel. I must say that the police and the ambulance services are very efficient as within seconds of this happening, there were around 300-400 vans all over the place. It was such kind of an alert that everyone knew that something bad had happened. That was the time when the commotion started. People wanted to run away and nobody knew what was happening. Even we wanted to go back to our hotel, not exactly knowing what was happening. We waited for our cab, but realised other people, especially women and children, also needed cabs, so we offered our ride to them. Our taxi driver was using Zello app (a walkie-talkie kind of app) which helped us figure out the safest route to take and he was also sharing this information with others.

By evening, police helicopters were monitoring the entire area. The area was cordoned off and there was a curfew-like situation. At 9 pm, we wanted to visit the area, but our hotel advised against it. But we went, and it was still guarded. We were about to party that night, but cancelled our plans. The fear is there, so much so that we are trying to re-schedule our flight and return sooner than planned. People here are gearing up to help each other. They are marking themselves ‘safe’ on social media and offering food and shelter. Whoever is in Barcelona is trying to help. Otherwise, we might have never chatted, or even bothered to mingle ...but there was solidarity and everyone was standing by each other.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 13:56 IST