Mumbai massacre survivor relives hotel bloodbath

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By Michael MacLeod

THE sole Scots survivor of the Mumbai massacre says he feared “certain death” while trapped in his hotel room for two days.

In a business trip that clashed with an Islamic terror group’s co-ordinated raid of Indian hotels, Roger Hunt, 43, was moments from becoming one of the 170 dead.

Speaking at the weekend in his first interview about the siege, the Royal Bank of Scotland manager told of how he escaped a shower of bullets.

He had just left the Oberoi Hotel’s restaurant when gunmen burst in and “sprayed bullets” at the very table he had eaten dinner at.

He said: “I watched them open fire with their machine guns.

“They sprayed bullets right where I had just been sitting.

“I think the smiling waitress was one of the first to die.”

The Macduff-based businessman fled the gunfire in what has since been named Black Wednesday – November 26 last year.

The terror attackers of Lashkar-e-Taiba raided hotels, businesses and a train station in the Indian city’s financial district.

But Hunt, an RBS human resources manager for the past 25-years, was one of the lucky few who escaped slaughter.

After racing to his 14th floor hotel room, he planned his tactics to outwit the gunmen.

But the terrorists had started a fire on the floor below, causing smoke to fill Hunt’s room while he desperately tried to call a local friend for help.

He said: “The situation was clearly far worse than I had imagined, and when I pulled back the window-length curtain a wall of thick acrid smoke filled the room.

“My colleague was shouting on the phone insisting I should get out of the room. I had to hang up to be sick.

“This was the first time I thought I was going to die.”

But if he left the room he could be savaged by the killers, who were scouring the hotel for Westerners.

He added: “Leaving the room I knew I faced certain death with the gunmen on the loose.”

He decided his best chance of survival was to stay in the room, so shoved a sofa against the door.

And he had to ignore his telephone ringing in a bid to make the room seem unoccupied to any passing terrorists.

He even forced himself to resist the urge to call home to wife Irene, 43, and children Stephanie, 14, Lisa, 21, and Christopher, 19.

Reliving those excruciating 43 hours, he said: “There was persistent gunfire and explosions and every so often you would hear the clicking of doors as guests would leave their rooms only to be gunned down in the corridor.

“The shrieks of a woman on the stairwell before she was shot still haunt me.”

He spent hours reflecting on the death of his 16 year-old brother Christopher, who died in a fishing boat accident off Kinlochbervie in the 1980s.

He said: “I thought how my parents might have felt knowing both of their sons died in dramatic circumstances.”

After forcing himself to stay awake for two days, Hunt was rescued by Indian commandos, the Black Cats, who had killed the last remaining fanatics and led survivors to safety.

The first thing he did was call home to Banffshire, only for a grenade blast to blow his mobile out of his hands.

He said: “It’s a memory that my wife and I will take to our graves.

“Hearing her voice and being able to say I was alive was overwhelming.”

Hunt has since left his job with RBS and is writing a book about his ordeal.

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