MADRID, Spain – Anibal Altamirano said fellow commuters around him were too stunned to move when the first bomb blew apart a train during rush hour Thursday morning.
When a second blast hit the busy Atocha station a few minutes later, everyone fled in panic.
"People dropped everything — bags and shoes — and ran, many trampling on others," said Altamirano, a 26-year-old Ecuadorean who was at the station a few blocks south of Madrid's famed Prado Museum (search).
"People didn't know which way to go," he said. "Some even went into the train tunnels without thinking other trains could be coming."
In all, 10 bombs exploded in quick succession across the Spanish capital's commuter rail network, killing more than 190 people and wounding more than 1,400.
"People started to scream and run, some bumping into each other, and as we ran there was another explosion," said Juani Fernandez, 50, who was waiting for a train at the Atocha station.
I saw people with blood pouring from them, people on the ground," she said.
Firefighter Juan Redondo, arriving at the El Pozo station just east of downtown Madrid, found a scene he described as "butchery on a brutal scale."
At least 70 bodies lay on the platform, near where two bombs tore through a double-decker train.
"It looked like a platform of death," Redondo said. "I've never seen anything like it before. The recovery of the bodies was very difficult. We didn't know what to pick up."
One body was blown onto the station's roof, he said.
"This catastrophe goes beyond the imaginable," Redondo said.
Corpses were entangled in the shredded metal wreckage of train cars, and body parts littered the platforms. Horrified rescue workers described the sickening stench of death as they recovered the remains of the old and the very young.
"I saw legs and arms. I won't forget this ever. I've seen horror," said Enrique Sanchez, an ambulance worker returning from Santa Eugenia station where another train car was blown wide open.
Outside the Atocha station, wailing ambulances and vans of riot police battled with rush-hour traffic. Helicopters flew overhead.
Residents in nearby houses were warned to stay off balconies, but thousands gathered anyway.
Many frantically called family and friends on cellphones. Some would never get through.
"On many bodies, we could hear the person's mobile phones ringing as we carted them away," said Beatriz Martin, a doctor who tended to victims at El Pozo.
Hundreds of relatives gathered at Gregorio Maranon Hospital (search), where many of the wounded were taken. Some families came out looking relieved after finding their loved ones among those being treated.
Others clutched each other and wept, then got back into their cars and headed in heavy traffic across town to the morgue.