India Uncut

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bomb blasts in Mumbai's railway stations

Update 10: My last word on the subject. No more updates here.

Update 9
: Do read my post on the Guardian's blog, Comment is Free, titled "Avoiding the backlash."

I make two points in that piece: one, the nature of terrorism is changing in India, and soft targets in big cities are more and more likely to be targeted. Two, this represents a challenge for Indian secularism that it must win if we are not to squander the gains of independence and democracy. Please read, and feel Free to Comment.

Update 7
(around 4 am, July 12): (I'm putting this update on top to summarise events. Scroll below for the chronology of my posting.)

Seven bomb blasts have taken place across Mumbai, along the Western Line railway, at rush hour. The exact locations are still not being clearly reported (see conflicting versions here and here), but this map (via Counterterrorism Blog) seems to be roughly correct. There's also a Google Map here.

Some links: Rediff's coverage, HT's coverage, NDTV, Mid Day, the Times of India, DNA, BBC, the Guardian, CNN, CNN-IBN, the Hindu. And here are pictures from Rediff, ToI, BBC, CNN-IBN and DNA. You can also see pics and YouTube clips at Ultrabrown, and there's a Flickr group here.

Other bloggers writing on this: Neha at Global Voices, Gaurav Sabnis, Sepia Mutiny, Varnam, Instapundit, Pajamas Media, Gateway Pundit, Pratyush Khaitan, Desi Pundit, Dhoomketu, Gawker, Patrix, and there's lots on Mumbai Metblogs.

Mumbai Help, which I'm part of, has seen loads of updates from bloggers, with one post in particular standing out: "How can we help you?" worked superbly as a forum through which people could reach their loved ones in Mumbai, and find out that they were okay. There is also a wiki now for such info.

More links will follow later. The original post, along with its first few updates, is below below the next update.

Update 8: The latest death toll is 190.

There's a lot of misinformation floating around, especially regarding blood donations. Rumours were floating that Sion Hospital needed 1600 bottles of blood, but that is not true. I just called them up and they told me they had excess blood, and there's a first-person account here from someone who went there to donate blood. Before you head off for that purpose, please call the hospital you intend to go to. A list of telephone numbers is here. More numbers (via Mumbai Help): Blood banks, BMC control rooms.

The Mumbai Police has a list of dead and injured people here. Everybody I know in Mumbai travels by train; any of us could have been on that list. It's chilling, and it feels frivolous to offer condolences on a blog for those who have lost a friend or relative. What consolation can there be?

Original post: At least four six seven* bomb blasts reported so far in Mumbai, not much on the web as I type this here are some reports: Rediff, NDTV, Times of India, BBC, Mid Day, the Guardian, CNN. These come right after blasts in Srinagar.

The TV channels are full of pictures, and cliches like "lifeline of Mumbai" and so on. One anchor asks his correspondent if this is a terrorist attack, as if he'd know five minutes after reaching the blast site. Phonelines are down across the city, though SMSs from outside are coming in. More later.

Latest reports: 20 deaths at Matunga Road (thanks n), 15 at Sion/Matunga. These are via TV, might be unreliable.

(*Mira Road, Jogeshwari, Khar, Matunga Road, Borivali, Bhayandar, Bandra: all across the Western line, at rush hour.)

Update: As soon as the first pictures started, Rajdeep Sardesai on CNN-IBN started waxing about how how "resilient Mumbaikars" were "helping each other." And moments ago, he bragged about how "this is the power of a global news organisation. These pictures are going out across the world thanks to CNN-IBN." Every news channel had more or less the same pictures.

Update 2: AN Roy says on NDTV 24x7 that at least 60 dead bodies have been located. He also says that the police has given no instructions to disable telephone lines, and that they are jammed for a different reason. (Obviously because everyone's trying to call at the same time and the network can't take the traffic.) Electricity has also been turned off at most of these stations, clearly for safety reasons. (Update: The latest death toll being reported is 135 145.)

Update 3: High-intensity explosives have been used for these attacks; some of the railway carriages have been ripped apart. This is clearly no amateur job, but a well-planned operation by a group with plenty of resources.

Update 4: A post on Mumbai Help, "How can we help you?" has effectively become a forum where you can ask for information or help in reaching friends etc. Feel free to post a message there if you need something, loads of different bloggers are monitoring that post, and will try to help out.

Update 5: LK Advani and Gopinath Munde of the BJP have appeared on news channels to condemn the central and state governments respectively. You'd expect the politicians to try and take advantage, but I hope -- like most Mumbaikars, I'm sure -- that the Shiv Sena doesn't get involved. It must be tempting for them to assert themselves by setting off a communal conflagaration. That would be a far worse disaster than these blasts. Mumbai needs to hold together now.

Update 6: Gaurav Sabnis has a timeline of the media coverage here. Also, more coverage on Sepia Mutiny and Ultrabrown.

Cross-posted on Mumbai Help, where various bloggers are posting updates and links to resources.
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