Pune, Nov.29 : A female television producer who was trapped inside Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel on Wednesday night, has said that she could feel the heat of the fire in the lobby and the firefight between the terrorists and the National Security Guard commandos.
Speaking from the safety of her home in Pune, Vaibhava Rele told Fox News that she had gone to the hotel for a production meeting, and added that when gunfire broke out, there were about 25 people in the room.
"We did hear loads of gunfire through the night. There was fire, there was smoke, there was water from sprinklers all around. "You could feel the heat of the fire in the lobby of the hotel," she told Fox over phone.
Rele said that the staff of restaurant where her meeting was being held had the presence of mind to swiftly lock the doors and turn off the lights to keep guests safe.
She said guests and restaurant staff stayed crouched or lay on the floor, keeping silent for more than six hours while hidden from the gunmen by darkness.
Rele said several people in the restaurant had cell phones, and started texting with friends and family, telling them what was happening.
Then, at about 10:30 p.m., the gunmen opened fire on the locked doors but, for unknown reasons they decided not to enter the restaurant.
At one point, the door was somehow opened, and the staff exposed themselves to the terrorists to push a chest of drawers against the doors to keep them closed. Though it made a loud noise, no one came to investigate. All the while the hotel lobby was burning.
She said chunks of the ceiling started falling in the restaurant's lounge area, where they were hiding, which made them worry something would come crashing down and crush one of them.
Finally, at about 4:15 a.m., as gunfire and explosions were still breaking out around them, the fire brigade turned up outside a restaurant window. Firefighters broke a window with a hammer and helped rescue everybody inside.
All 25 people in the restaurant escaped unharmed, she said.
Rele said returned to Pune on Thursday night.