Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Diamond centre bleeds

Nine people were killed and more than 50 injured on Wednesday by a bomb that exploded in the evening outside Pancharatna Towers, authorities of a hospital said. The 24-storey building in the densely populated Opera House area of south Mumbai is the hub of diamond trading in the

Eyewitnesses said the explosion took place between 6:30 pm and 6:50 pm, when traders in the area are usually leaving for home or are returning to the office to lock up the day’s unsold diamonds. The blast took place outside the building’s back entrance, which leads directly to a short-cut to Charni Road station, the closest station to the area, a route that many traders use.

“The explosion shattered the window panes and sent the diamonds on my weighing tray flying,” said Chirag Vora, 36, who has a direct view of Pancharatna’s back entrance from his office room on the first floor of the adjacent building.

“The glass pieces cut into my right hand and it began bleeding. I then rushed down and saw smoke and bodies strewn on the ground. I have been working in Opera House for 20 years now. I was stunned. I have never seen such shock and panic among people here as I did today.”

At Hurkisondas hospital in Girgaum nearby, Chinkle Shah, a diamond broker, said he had used the camera on his mobile phone to videotape the blast site. Shah, who had brought several of those injured at Opera House to the hospital, replayed the clip, which showed several bodies lying in a pool of blood.

“Most people had lost their lower limbs and were injured in their stomach and abdomen,” said Shah.

Kumar Kothari, 35, a diamond broker, received injuries on his head, arms and legs from glass shards that flew into him when the windowpanes of a jewellery shop shattered from the impact of the blast.

A few hours after the blast, people were still milling around Opera House. “We have been regularly complaining about the various illegal food stalls in this area,” said a diamond trader who did not wish to be named. “If the civic authorities had done something about these illegal stalls, perhaps this would not have happened today.”

The mayor Shraddha Jadhav and the Congress Maharashtra President, Manikrao Thakre, visited Saifee Hospital.

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