13 Jul 2011

Mumbai rocked by three explosions

At least 20 people are reported dead and more than 100 wounded after three blasts in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, during the evening rush hour.

Three blasts hit Mumbai, India's financial capital

Prithvirag Chavan, chief minister of the state of Maharashtra, told CNN-IBN: “The vehicles used were scooters and motorcycles.”

An improvised explosive device (IED) is thought to have been used to carry out at least one of the three blasts. Arup Patnaik, Mumbai’s police commissioner, told local television that an IED had been put inside an umbrella at Zaveri Bazaar, one of the three blast sites.

Reports say an unexploded bomb has also been found in Dadar West, in central Mumbai. Police were seen using sniffer dogs to look for clues, while local people helped parademics carry away some of the injured.

The third blast occured at the Opera House, an area full of diamond stores in the south of the city, near where a gun raid by Pakistan-based militants in 2008 resulted in the deaths of at least 166 people.

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani both condemned today’s blasts in a statement. In a statement, US President Barack Obama offered his country’s support in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The explosions hit Mumbai during the city’s rush hour, at around 1900 hours local time.

One eye-witness told CNN-IBN television: “We were inside our office when we heard a huge noise. Outside there was a lot of commotion.”

“We can see fire trucks are here, and they have taken away two or three bodies.”

New York Times Mumai correspondent Vikas Bajaj, tweeting as @vikasbajaj from the centre of the city, wrote: “Now raining in Dadar. Sidewalks are littered with shattered glass. Crowds jostling to get to the train station nearby.”

In an earlier tweet, he recorded: “Significant damage at a bus station near chidia ghar, Dadar. Nearby shops suffered some broken glass. Lots of bystanders.”

India’s Home Ministry has ordered heightened security across the country in the wake of the explosions.