Mumbai, Dec.2 : An Australian helicopter pilot has revealed how he saved the lives of more than 30 people at the popular Leopold's Cafe in Mumbai.
"Aw, it probably all sounds more dramatic than it really was," Steve Smith told The Australian. "I did what any Aussie would do in the circumstances. It would have been nice if there'd been another Aussie around and we could have done more," he added. The 43-year-old resident of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, said that he was with his Japanese model girlfriend Yumi having a drink at the Leopold's Cafe last Wednesday night when the armed terrorists struck.
"We were up on the mezzanine floor having a drink when I suddenly heard the sound of a grenade exploding in the downstairs of the cafe, under us. Then there was another one, and almost immediately there was the distinctive sound of almost constant automatic fire from AK-47s," he said.
"There were about 30 people upstairs with us - a few Europeans, but mostly young Indians - and I knew immediately that I had to do something," news.co. au. quoted him, as saying. He said that as the firing continued, he grabbed Yumi, shoved her into the room and then pushed the rest of the 30 or so people into the tiny space, packing them like sardines into a can and forcing the doors closed once he had got them all in.
"There was no alternative. It was either that or die. The firing was going on constantly. I knew that if we didn't hide, we'd be killed," Smith said. Smith, who served with the Australian Army for seven years, used his army training to take further action.
He climbed out of the cupboard and first grabbed a butter knife from a plate on a table.
"My intention was to use it to kill someone," he said, adding that through the glass surrounding the mezzanine floor I could see one of the gunmen. He was firing non-stop into the crowd downstairs - firing into the European bodies over and over again. It was quite clear that they were deliberately targeting the Europeans in the cafe."
He then moved towards the cafe's stairwell and picked up a heavy-looking coffee table. There was a door at the bottom of the stairwall. "There was a sudden lull in the firing," he said.
"I hurled the table down the stairs and there was a big noise, but I had enough time to jam it against the door. The bloke on the other side, one of the terrorists, kicked the door a couple of times and tried to push it, but I had the table firmly against it. Then, he fired a couple of rounds through the door that missed me by about a foot. I got hold of a bar stool and bent the legs and used that as further support to keep the table in place. I was bloody scared when they fired through the door but I kept going."
When the firing stopped, he went upstairs and brought the 30 people out of the cupboard.
"There was a strange silence," he said. "It was really sad downstairs. There were a couple of elderly couples, and in each instance the dead husband was lying over his wife, having been killed trying to protect her against the gunmen," he said.