Hours away from being caught up in Indian bombings

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A CHARITY official has spoken of his shock at being less than a kilometre from two bombs that rocked an Indian city yesterday.

Vishwanath Pullé, a trustee of the Angels of the North umbrella charity, was at the scene in Hyderabad in the Andhra Pradesh state of India, just a few hours before the two devices were set off.

The bombs, which killed 15 people and injured a further 119, were strapped to two bicycles about 150 metres apart.

They exploded minutes apart in a crowded shopping area near to two cinemas in the town at around 7pm local time on Thursday, February 22, as people headed home from work.

Mr Pullé, from Darras Hall in Ponteland, and fellow charity trustee Dr Ram Reddy, who had been at the scene at 1pm, were left shocked at the apparent attack on innocent people.

“It is really terrible,” he said.

“We drove pass that area to a temple in the morning and then returned, fortunately, around 1pm, in time to be safely far from the incident.

“We are all safe, the bomb exploded a kilometre from Ram’s place. I talked to him and he is ok.

“The entire blast site has been sealed and forensic experts are rummaging through the rubble, including motorcycles reduced to a twisted metallic heap.

“Large numbers of policemen have been working tirelessly searching for the dead and injured in the completely devastated area, which was covered with shards of glass, bricks and mortar, bags and footwear of the victims with blood stains everywhere.”

Back home in Cramlington, his daughter Sowmya said: “I first new about the bombings by a text message. As soon as I read that it was Hyderabad I was naturally worried.

“We have a lot of family in the area and my Dad is currently there as well.

“I know it’s a large city and I kept reassuring myself by thinking that the chances of any of them being caught up in something so terrible was probably slim, but even so I was still concerned as I had no idea where it had happened.

“You feel so helpless when you don’t know exactly where it is and how far away from your family.

“Thankfully modern technology these days makes it so easy to contact anyone. I emailed, texted and used Facebook and messenger to contact my cousin and Dad to check they were ok and luckily they replied within minutes.

“It’s quite scary to think they had been in the area shortly before.”

Mr Pullé was in the city to supervise a new educational charity for orphans and deprived youngsters that Angels of the North is funding there.

Dr Reddy heard the explosions which shook the densely populated area.

“Shortly after that, we lost power and all telephone contacts and it was only after 36 hours that we learned that the explosions had been caused by improvised explosive devices,” he said.

“At first we were all expecting further explosions which caused great anxiety to a lot of people”, he added.