Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Indian Woman Recalls Night of Terror Inside Taj Mahal Hotel

Fate, chance or luck can put people on a collision course with history.

For Vaibhava Rele, a television producer, fate placed her inside the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai on Wednesday night. She'd traveled there from her home in Pune, India, for a production meeting at one of the hotel's restaurants.

There were about 25 people in the room when gunfire broke out.

Islamic terrorists, part of a band of gunmen carrying out coordinated attacks at 10 different locations in Mumbai, were firing indiscriminantly inside the hotel, at times taking hostages.

Only the restaurant staff's “presence of mind” to swiftly lock the doors and turn off the lights kept Rele and others in the room safe, she said.

“We did hear loads of gunfire through the night,” she told FOXNews.com, speaking by phone from her home. "There was fire, there was smoke, there was water [from sprinklers] all around.”

As the fighting carried on through the night, everyone — guests and restaurant staff — stayed crouched or lying on the floor, keeping silent for more than six hours while hidden from the gunmen by darkness.

Initially, nobody knew the scope of what was happening, or had any idea it would go on for so long, Rele said.

Many people in the restaurant, however, had cell phones, and started texting with friends and family, telling them what was happening.

Then, at about 10:30 p.m., the gunmen opened fire on the locked doors — but, as luck would have it, for unknown reasons decided not to enter the restaurant.

At one point, the door was somehow opened, and the staff chanced exposing themselves to the terrorists to push a chest of drawers against the doors to keep them closed. Though it made a loud noise, no one came to investigate, she said.

All the while the hotel lobby was burning.

“You could feel the heat of the fire,” Rele remembered.

She said chunks of the ceiling started falling in the restaurant's lounge area, where they were hiding, which made them worry something would come crashing down and crush one of them.

Finally, at about 4:15 a.m., as gunfire and explosions were still breaking out around them, the fire brigade turned up outside a restaurant window. Firefighters broke a window with a hammer and helped rescue everybody inside.

All 25 people in the restaurant escaped unharmed, she said.

She came back to Pune on Thursday night, and has since just been assuring relatives and friends over the phone that she is fine.

“It’s just plain simple good luck they didn’t walk in the room and shower bullets around," she said.

FOXNews.com's Judd Berger filed this report from Mumbai