37 Australians missing
THE Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said last night that he was worried about the safety of dozens of Australians missing after the Mumbai terrorist attacks."I'm deeply concerned for the wellbeing of our fellow Australians who we can't track down yet … I fear these [death toll] numbers may rise."
Indian officials say four Australians have died and a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said officials were "urgently seeking to confirm the safety and welfare of 37 Australians".Two Sydney men are confirmed dead among the 143 killed in the attacks.Seven Australians were among 93 people who walked free yesterday after being holed up in the Trident Oberoi Hotel in a 36-hour ordeal at the hands of gun-wielding terrorists.
Three IAG employees, Stephen Beatty, Mike Kelsall and Chen Ling, were among busloads of relieved guests, trapped in their rooms as terrorists occupied the hotel in southern Mumbai, who were able to leave yesterday after an operation by commandos.
The head of the national security guard, JK Dutt, said the Trident Oberoi was "under our control". A state minister, RR Patil, said there were 30 bodies in the hotel.
In an operation code-named Black Tornado, Indian authorities worked to gain control of the crisis yesterday, as commandos scoured two charred luxury hotels, searching for survivors.The head of one commando unit said he had seen 50 bodies in the Taj Mahal hotel, including 12 to 15 in one room.He said his troops had found plastic explosives and that the gunmen "had no remorse".
"Anybody and everybody who came in front of them they fired at," he said.
At a third location, a Jewish community centre run by the orthodox Chabad movement where remnants of the well-organised squads of attackers appeared to have dug in, commandos abseiled from a helicopter onto the roof and began an assault to retake the building shortly after 7am Mumbai time. A gun battle broke out inside the building and hundreds of shots were heard over the next few hours.
Amid indications that the sieges might be entering a final phase, fears were growing that the death toll would rise.Smoke was still rising from one of the hotels, and people who escaped reported stepping around bodies.
Dozens of people, perhaps many more, remained trapped in the hotels, although it was uncertain whether any were being held as hostages.