Mumbai doctors battle to save India blast victims

By Sanjay Rajan, Krittivas Mukherjee

MUMBAI - Doctors battled through the night to treat hundreds of blood-spattered victims in India's financial capital Mumbai after blasts on packed suburban trains and stations killed over 160 people today.

Dazed survivors lay on stretchers awaiting their turn to be attended as hospitals ran out of beds and critically injured patients had to be housed in children's wards.

"Most of the patients have received burn injuries and are suffering from severe trauma," M.E Yeolekar, head of Sion Hospital, told Reuters. "In my entire career as a physician, this is the second destruction I have seen of this magnitude," he said, referring to bomb blasts in the western city in 1993 which killed 250 and wounded around 1000 people.

Hundreds of relatives frantically pored over a list of dead and injured outside the hospital, a scene repeated at many other hospitals, packed with people searching for friends and relatives.

Some of the people who entered a makeshift morgue were unable to identify badly mutilated bodies.

"I spoke to him 10 minutes before he died," said Haji Mastan, sobbing uncontrollably over the death of his cousin Mukti Mahmood Darvesh, who was travelling on one of the suburban trains.

"Why did it have to end like this? He was young and he has children."

The blasts occurred on five trains and at two stations during the evening rush hour along Mumbai's western suburbs, linked to the downtown office and business areas mainly by an overground rail network used by some 6.5 million people daily.

In another hospital, staff constantly mopped up blood from the floor as patients were being wheeled in by the minute.

"We collected scattered limbs with our own hands and put them in bundles and sent them to hospital," said Santosh Patil, a railway labourer, as he stretchered in a mangled body.

"It was a deafening sound and before anybody could realise anything the roof of the train was ripped apart," said Mukund Thakur, who was travelling to the northern suburb of Andheri.

"People were thrown outside. I saw limbs strewn around me." Local people distributed food and water among hundreds of people who waited for news from their near and dear ones.

"We are trying to persuade them to have something," Gurpreet Singh Bangar said.

"In this moment of distress and tragedy, people don't care for food," he said. "But everybody has to live."

- REUTERS

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