Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Hotel
This is still a very fluid situation but some hotel guests escaped in the chaos and have provided some insight:
Another British guest at the Taj Mahal hotel, where the England cricket team had been staying two weeks ago, said that he had managed to escape the terrorists after finding himself among a dozen people who were herded together by two heavily armed men and taken up to the hotel’s upper floors.
“They were very young, like boys really, wearing jeans and T-shirts,” he added. “They said they wanted anyone with British and American passports and then they took us up the stairs. I think they wanted to take us to the roof.” He said he escaped when they reached the 18th floor.
As he was speaking, there was a loud explosion from the roof of the hotel. Several European politicians were among a group who had barricaded themselves inside the Taj Mahal, a century-old seaside hotel complex and one of the city’s best-known destinations.
They included Sajjad Karim, a Conservative MEP. He said by mobile phone: “I was in the lobby of the hotel when gunmen came in and people started running. There were about 25 or 30 of us. Some of us split one way and some another. A gunman just stood there spraying bullets around, right next to me. I managed to turn away and I ran into the hotel kitchen and then we were shunted into a restaurant in the basement. We are now in the dark in this room and we’ve barricaded all the doors. It’s really bad.”
THe number of hostages seems to range wildly in reports – with some estimates at 100 or more:
Over 40 western hostages are reportedly being held at two luxury hotels in soutern Mumbai, say the Times of India.
Fire is reportedly spreading across the Heritage Wing of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel amid ongoing firefights between the army and terrorists.
CNN is reporting that 7-15 hostages remain in the Taj specifically. While NDTV puts the number of terrorists still on scene at 3 to 4.
More on the historic Taj at its website.