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Australian businessman still trapped in Mumbai hotel.

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2CN AM Australian businessman still trapped in Mumbai hotel


Australian businessman still trapped in Mumbai hotel

AM - Friday, 28 November , 2008 08:00:00

TONY EASTLEY: The security situation in Mumbai appears to have eased a little in the last few hours but there are still fears the death toll could rise as commandos complete a room by room sweep of the two big luxury hotels targeted by terrorists.

The death toll at the moment is put at 125. As well, more than 300 were wounded or injured as terrorists attacked several sites in Mumbai with automatic weapons and explosives. At two big hotels, the Taj and Oberoi, hostages were taken.

Most hostages have been freed but there's uncertainty about the situation at the Oberoi Hotel; there are reports two gunmen are still holed up there.

On other floors in the hotel guests have barricaded themselves in their rooms. One of them is an Australian who we'll hear from shortly.

People who escaped the killing told reporters of their horror as the attackers fired indiscriminately and attempted to identify British and American citizens.

One Australian, 49-year-old Brett Taylor of Sydney, a member of a trade delegation, is confirmed to have been killed. Another older, Australian man, a tourist from Sydney, is also reported to have been killed by gunmen.

TONY EASTLEY: Australian businessman Garrick Harveson is a member of the New South Wales trade delegation caught up in the terrorist attacks.

The wine export manager barricaded himself inside his room at the Oberoi Hotel where he's been ever since the gunmen started firing 24 hours ago.

I understand you're still hearing gunfire and grenades going off. When was the last time you heard any action within the hotel like that?

GARRICK HARVESON: Gun… that was gunfire just then. Haven't heard any grenade blasts for a good hour, hour and a half. Again, information is sketchy but my understanding is that there are still one or two gunmen in the hotel. The Indian armed forces have held them up but until they've eliminated them they're not letting us all out of the rooms. They have evacuated different levels of the hotel and managed to get some people out but not all of us.

So frustratingly enough for about the last six hours I've been told yep, you're out soon, you're out soon, you're out soon. And I'm still here. But I understand the situation that, you know, obviously I don't want to go anywhere until they're eradicated.

TONY EASTLEY: When you look around you Garrick as you're speaking to us now on AM, what, explain your room to me.

GARRICK HARVESON: Standard hotel room. Doorway is pretty busy because I've just got a few chairs and things like that barricading the doors in. I've put, the bed's back in the room, sorry back in the main part of the room but I've basically just taken all the pillows off and I have slept, I sleep away from the door, on the other side of the bed, on the ground, just to give me a buffer as well.

TONY EASTLEY: I believe you've managed to contact some other members of the trade delegation in a similar situation to you. How are they faring?

GARRICK HARVESON: Look I'm in SMS contact with one of the leaders of the delegation. I haven't touched base with him for some hours but he's holding up similarly to what I am and he's looking forward to getting out and getting back to his family as well. He's got a young family also.

TONY EASTLEY: When you say you haven't been in contact with him for a while is that because of the possibility that he may have already been evacuated along with some other guests?

GARRICK HARVESON: Correct, correct. And also just yeah, just trying to get some rest as well.

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TONY EASTLEY: Presumably you're being extremely cautious because there's still so much uncertainty about what's going on inside the hotel. Do you get the feeling that the situation may be easing a little?

GARRICK HARVESON: Yes, yes. I do get the feeling that the situation is easing. It's getting better by the minute. There's more gunshots there. But it's still not 100 per cent safe.

TONY EASTLEY: When I look at a picture of the Oberoi Hotel and we see them on our television sets here, from the outside the building looks quite calm at the moment. Are you high up in the Oberoi? What level are you on?

GARRICK HARVESON: I'm sort of above half way.

TONY EASTLEY: I can hear that gunfire still in the background there. Garrick, this is not the sort of trade delegation, not the sort of visit you were hoping for in Mumbai?

GARRICK HARVESON: (Laughs) Certainly not.

TONY EASTLEY: Garrick, where do you go in those quiet moments in that dark hotel room when you're not in SMS contact and the media aren't talking to you?

GARRICK HARVESON: I just think about my family Tony. I'm lucky in my phone I've got a few video footage of my kids and my wife and also just flick through the photos there. Other than that I just try and shut my eyes and sort of meditate if you can say that and just try and relax and try and (inaudible).

TONY EASTLEY: Well we all trust that you'll be out very soon and safely. Garrick Harveson, thanks very much for speaking with us on AM.

GARRICK HARVESON: Cheers, thanks for your thoughts.

TONY EASTLEY: Thank you, bye.

TONY EASTLEY: Australian businessman Garrick Harveson in his darkened and barricaded room at the Oberoi Hotel.

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