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28.11.2008 International

Horror In Mumbai

By Daily Guide

Witnesses caught up in the terrorist attack on Mumbai have spoken of how they ran for their lives, smashed windows to escape and sheltered in hotel rooms as the horror that has claimed more than 100 lives unfolded.

One of the targets for the gunmen was the Taj Hotel, one of Mumbai's most famous landmarks.

Anthony Rose, an Australian visiting Mumbai to produce a travel show, told CNN Thursday that he checked into the Taj hotel just a minute before attackers stormed into the lobby Wednesday night.

"They came in with all guns blazing," Rose said. "It was just chaos."

Rose and others found refuge in a hotel ballroom, where they waited for six hours hoping to be rescued.

Although they could hear explosions and gunfire nearby, there were no sirens or police evident, he said.

Help never arrived and the group were forced to smash a thick glass window and climbed down to the street on curtains.

"As soon as the hotel was on fire, we knew we had to go," Rose said.

Meanwhile Manuela Testolini, founder of the In A Perfect World children's foundation and ex-wife of music icon Prince, described how she saw someone shot in front of her at the Taj before sheltering with 250 other terrified people in the darkened ballroom.

Testolini was eating dinner at a restaurant across the street from the Taj when she saw the gunmen approach.

"We heard some gunshots," she said. "My colleague saw someone get shot just outside of the glass doors of the restaurant. Obviously, that prompted us to jump up and run."

Testolini left all her possessions and scurried through the kitchen of the restaurant to the sound of gunshots behind her, before heading with colleagues and restaurant staff to a darkened ballroom in the Taj.

There they waited for two hours, listening to constant bullet barrages and grenade attacks outside.

Another witness, Yasmin Wong, a CNN employee, was also staying in the Taj Hotel. She said she hid under her bed for several hours after she was awoken by gunfire.

he then received a phone call from the hotel, telling her to turn her lights off, put a wet towel by the door and stay in her room until told otherwise.

So Wong sat in the dark, watching smoke rise outside her hotel window.

"I saw a guy outside the window above me who had smashed the window and was hanging out," Wong said. "At that point, authorities told us to run out of the hotel."

Wong said she passed dead bodies in the hotel's halls as she searched for an exit, finally leaving through the pool entrance.

Wong said: "I thought it was going to end but it seemed to never end."

Meanwhile Mark Abell spoke to CNN from a hotel room near the Taj.