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First hand account of scenes at Martin Place

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“The Hindu” got in touch with an Indian national in Sydney who happened to be in the vicinity of the Lindt Café. Here’s a first hand account of the scenes at Martin Place.

I work just a block away from the Lindt café. I got to work around 9.30 a.m. today, walking right past the Christmas tree at Martin Place, as I do everyday. Around 9.45 a.m., I saw a bunch of people at work huddled around the TV and came to know of the situation. As I looked out of the window from the 9th floor, it was an eerie scene. The busiest city roads were almost deserted except for the sporadic wailing sirens of police cars and a few people walking on the streets. Quite the opposite of the typical Monday rush hour.

Since we didn't know the scale of the incident, speculation was rife, with bits and pieces of news trickling in about possible attacks at other sites, a suspicious object being found at the Opera House and so on. After an hour or so, we received an e-mail informing us that we were free to leave the workplace if we chose to, but not to take the Martin Place route. Trains via Martin Place were cancelled, but other lines were plying without interruption.

Around noon, most people had left work, and as I prepared to leave with some colleagues, there was an announcement on the PA system from the building authorities about a lock-down for "safety reasons". However, we were already on our way and continued to exit without hassle.

I usually take a train from Wynyard to North Sydney, but as I was hesitant considering Wynyard's proximity to Martin Place, I walked all the way to Town Hall and took a train back home. The underground shopping strip surrounding Town Hall till Pitt Street Mall was abuzz with activity.

As my train passed over the Harbour Bridge, it was quite apparent that people were on their way back home, as the roads were full, the waterways near-empty and police choppers hovering above. I'm not sure if leaving the workplace was an overreaction, or if staying back in the lock-out would have been a better choice, but I feel safer back home, and I think my apprehensions are justified. I hope the situation ends peacefully. My thoughts and prayers are with the hostages.

The identity of the witness has been withheld.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 4:36:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/first-hand-account-of-scenes-at-martin-place/article10946426.ece

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