Three bomb blasts go off within 11 minutes at Zaveri Bazar, Kabutarkhana, and Opera House

Three blasts between 6.54 p.m. and 7.05 p.m. on Wednesday rocked the crowded areas of Mumbai, killing 21 persons and injuring 141 others. The most powerful one, suspected to have been set off by an IED (improvised explosive device), occurred at Zaveri Bazaar in south Mumbai, a congested part of the city, the second at Kabutarkhana near the Dadar suburban railway station in central Mumbai and the third at Opera House, also in south Mumbai.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, confirming the death toll, said the blasts were a terror strike and the police would get to the bottom of it. He said the blasts occurred at 6.54 p.m., 6.55 p.m. and 7.05 p.m.

Appealing to Mumbaikars to remain calm, Mr. Chavan said he had spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and both of them assured the State all help.

In the blast near a bus stop at Kabutarkhana, according to eyewitness accounts, a car that was passing by was shattered and its driver injured. The damaged bus stop and broken glass of nearby shops bore testimony to the intensity of the bomb, which was placed near the Hanuman Mandir, according to Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Umeshkumar Sarangi.

Mr. Sarangi said the bomb at Zaveri Bazaar was placed in an umbrella, while the one at Opera House was in a manhole. While Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik confirmed that it was an IED that was used at Zaveri Bazaar, investigations are still on to confirm the kind of explosive used at the other two places.

At Dadar, eyewitnesses said, the explosion was so loud many thought a building had collapsed. Rajendra Rathod, who has a shop just opposite the place where the bomb went off, told The Hindu that the intensity caused him to fall on the ground. A motorcyclist riding by also suffered the impact. The police cordoned off the entire area which was crammed with onlookers and the media.

There was a scuffle as workers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) insisted the police were late in taking away the injured persons to hospital. People said they saw at least four persons lying injured and one dead.

Luckily, no schoolchild was injured, said Amruta Parab. For at this time of the day, usually lots of children and parents would be moving around the nearby school. Kabutarkhana is one of the most crowded areas outside the Dadar suburban station and usually there would be 150-200 people around. Rahul Gokhale heard the blast sound a little away at Portuguese Church where he lives in, and came to the site, where he witnessed chaos and confusion.

Pointing out that it was a difficult situation, Mr. Patnaik said Mumbai had witnessed blasts again and again. He promised the people that the guilty would be brought to book.

This is the third bomb blast at Zaveri Bazaar, the heart of the diamond trading area of the city. The earlier two happened in 1993 and in 2003.

On Wednesday, the bomb exploded in an area popularly called “Khau Galli” where people gather to have a snack in the evenings. It was littered with shattered glass and crowds surged to the site.

Jayesh Labdhi, a diamond merchant, was coming out of his office when he heard the loud explosion which he thought was caused by firing. Then he heard people running around and saying it was a blast. He said that he took 14-20 people to hospital. He saw almost 30 people lying around with injuries.

Some eyewitnesses said that they heard two blasts one after the other. Pravinbhai Tanna said the bomb exploded outside a shop called Super Tools. Its owner Syed Radhanpurwalla and some others inside the shop were seriously injured.

Mustafa Patakdawalla, who was helping the injured, saw a huge plume of smoke rising into the sky. Dheeraj Degliya was injured in the leg and hurt by metal particles. After the explosion there was complete darkness in the smoke-filled area. He said rains were a blessing because fewer people were out on the road.

In Opera House the bomb exploded outside the J K building in the Panchvati diamond chowk area. Pankaj Jain, a diamond trader, was in his ground floor office nearby when he heard the explosion which brought a sleet of shattered glass inside. He sustained head injuries and fled the scene to get admitted to the Saifee Hospital. There were scenes of chaos at both the Saifee and Harkisondas hospitals with relatives and the media thronging the place for information.

Jayant Sanghvi lost his hearing after the explosion. Speaking to The Hindu at the Saifee hospital, he said he had suffered head injuries too. The blast was heard a km away and even two streets down the road. On a normal day there would be 3,000 to 4,000 people in the area.

At the GT Hospital, Sadashiv Bhane was badly shaken as his son, who works in Kalbadevi as a clerk, was injured. Barun Samanta, a gold worker is frantically searching for his colleague, Kamal Dalai.

A hospital worker said nearly 30 injured persons were brought from Zaveri Bazaar and most of the serious cases were transferred to JJ and KEM.

Some of the pictures of people injured or killed in the Mumbai bomb explosions may cause distress to readers. They are being published to show the horror, the trauma, and the human suffering inflicted by the terrorist attacks.

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