During the chaos in the first few minutes when the fourth floor of Mantralaya went up in flames, the Navy thought that the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building, which has previously been a target of terror attacks, was on fire.
“We saw smoke coming from behind the BSE building and thought that it was on fire. But then, one of our officers informed us that there was a fire at Mantralaya. We immediately sent fire tenders there, without anyone intimating us,” Om Prakash Singh, assistant security officer of the Naval Dockyard, said.
He told The Hindu that the Navy informed its commandos of the situation, who later flew down in choppers for the rescue operation.
For a long time, naval officers struggled to know if anyone was stuck inside the building. “We have to give instructions to the commandos. But no one is able to give us any information on that,” a naval officer told The Hindu on condition of anonymity.
Naval officers were seen pursuing a few Ministers to get details of those trapped inside, but the ministers were kept busy by TV channels.
Naval officers kept requesting the TV channels to announce that if relatives of any of the viewers were stuck inside the building, they should be asked to come to the terrace. “The commandos are on their way. They will be able to rescue them only when they reach the terrace. Please request the relatives to convey this message to any of their near and dear ones who might be stuck inside the building,” an officer said.