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Dozens of Australians caught up in the violence.



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RN PM Dozens of Australians caught up in the violence

27/11/2008

Dozens of Australians caught up in the violence

PM - Thursday, 27 November , 2008 18:14:00

MARK COLVIN: Dozens of Australians were caught up in the violence.

They range from the members of a trade delegation to a former Neighbours actor; Brooke Satchwell.

Many of them told of anxious escapes. Some were left hiding in hotel rooms for hours.

At least two were injured but the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says there could be more casualties.

Lisa Millar reports.

LISA MILLAR: University student Dave Croker was just one day into a backpacking holiday with his girlfriend Kate Anstee. He told Richard Glover on ABC 702 that both of them were hit by bullets.

DAVE CROKER: We were at Cafe Leopold. We'd literally just sat down and ordered and before anything else happened what I initially thought were firecrackers very quickly turned out be a bit more sinister, it sort of just opened up in the restaurant.

I took about five steps and Katie wasn't with me anymore, so I had to go back and drag her outside and then carried her to a taxi and got to the hospital.

LISA MILLAR: The 24-year-old has had surgery and is recovering in hospital.

Nearby, Garrick Harrison was walking into his room at the Oberoi hotel when he heard the attacks start.

GARRICK HARRISON: I started hearing all this banging, which I just thought was fireworks or something, so I just went out, had a look and it was just bang, bang, bang, you know like a semi-automatic rifle. I looked over and found that it wasn't fireworks; it was actually people shooting people.

I just ran inside the room and from that point for the next sort of five or six hours there were gun shots and bomb blasts and, you know a pretty scary experience.

LISA MILLAR: He's one of 20 people in Mumbai as part of a trade delegation organised by the New South Wales Government.

He's still in holed up in the hotel and has no idea when he might get out.

Another 300 Australians are registered with the Federal Government as being in the city.

Former Neighbours star Brooke Satchwell is there filming a travel documentary. She'd been having a cigarette outside the Taj Mahal and had walked back into the lobby when the gunmen started firing.

She hid inside a bathroom with five others before escaping.

Her film crew was still trapped inside.

BROOKE SATCHWELL: I know the group got separated at one point. One lot actually got surrounded in the glass in restaurants and at one stage the sprinklers went off, they were having grenades thrown at their doors.

The other group ended up in a boardroom and in the end they shredded the drapes and smashed the windows and tied them together. I'm proud to say it was a group of Aussies, and literally slid down the drapes to get out of the second floor.

LISA MILLAR: Film editor David Gross spoke of the terrifying experience.

DAVID GROSS: It just kept getting louder and then there started the explosions, which I've not been to war zones so I thought they were bombs. But we've been told there a lot of hand grenades being thrown. They were loud, I mean, and then, I don't know, they are reporting fire glass; I think we probably heard 25 hand grenades go off at least. And each time they were louder and nearby and we could hear gunshots down the corridor that was outside our door.

LISA MILLAR: Bernard Carpenter was at a restaurant close to the Taj Mahal. He says Westerners are afraid to move, the situation still perilous.

BERNARD CARPENTER: I'm not going to go out onto bare streets as a pretty tall white Westerner when these people are potentially after people like me. I look as American or English as I do Australian. So I'll be staying pretty much locked down until there's some evidence that it's under control.

LISA MILLAR: The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd condemned the attacks and told Federal Parliament the Australian casualties are likely to rise.

KEVIN RUDD: This cowardly attack on India's stability, peace and democracy, reminds us all that international terrorism is

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far from defeated and that we must all maintain our vigilance

LISA MILLAR: The Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull described the attackers as murderous cowards.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Democracy and economic freedom have lifted tens if not hundreds of millions of Indians from the very bottom of poverty; have provided great opportunities in that free society. And these terrorists seek to stop that.

LISA MILLAR: Australians are being told to avoid travelling to Mumbai.

Qantas is preparing to help evacuate Australians from tomorrow.

MARK COLVIN: Lisa Millar.

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