Anupama Katakam

Mumbai: The staff and executives of The Oberoi and the Trident Hotels on Sunday started what could be a long and arduous task of cleaning up the twin towers, which was one of the main targets of the terror attack in Mumbai.

Thirty two people were killed in the hotels, after terrorists stormed the premises on the night of November 26. After a two-day fierce battle between the terrorists and security forces, the hotel was secured at 1 pm on November 28. Security forces managed to evacuate 316 people from the Trident, while 135 people were evacuated from the Oberoi, said an official statement from the hotel.

The hotel is still completely barricaded and only guests who want to retrieve their belongings are allowed in. However, the roads that lead to the hotel, which were cordoned off during the operation, have been opened to the public.

Immaculately dressed in their uniforms, the hotel staff could be spotted in rooms and on the ground floor assessing the damage and perhaps beginning the first phase of restoring the hotel to functioning order.

“We are still working through the floors assessing the damage and are not in a position to say what the extent of damage is as yet. We therefore cannot estimate when the hotel will reopen," said a spokesperson from the Oberoi.

Since the roads have opened, the destroyed parts of the buildings could be viewed from the sea-side end of the towers. During the entire crisis, it was believed that most of the destruction was taking place in the Trident tower. However at a press conference soon after the National Security Guards secured the Oberoi and Trident Hotels, the media was told it was actually the Oberoi tower which was severely damaged. The big glass windows in the lobby of the Oberoi and the Trident that overlook the sea were completely shattered. The once swanky lobby of the Oberoi, looked like a black hole that is completely gutted. Several windows up to the fourth floor are missing or broken. There are bullet holes in many.

It being a Sunday, many had come from distant suburbs to see the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels. People were seen taking pictures.

There were big sheets of white paper pasted on a parking booth. People were writing slogans such as “Proud to be an Indian,” “How loud do we have to shout to make some people realise their responsibility,” and “I love my India.”

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