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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 12:28 GMT
Eyewitness: 'Scene of destruction'
Scene at the main waiting room
Serena Bowles photographed the scene shortly after the blast
Fourteen people died in two bomb blasts on Tuesday in the Indian holy city of Varanasi, officials have confirmed.

The BBC News website spoke to British photographer Serena Bowles, who was in the city's Cantonment railway station when one of the bombs exploded in the main waiting area.

It was around 1815 local time (1245 GMT). I was in the ladies' waiting room on platform five waiting for a connecting train that had been delayed.

There was a loud bang which rattled the windows of the room I was in.

When I first heard the explosion, my immediate thought was that it was a bomb. But the Indian woman next to me laughed and assured me that it had only been thunder.

Not convinced, I went onto the platform, but there I found nothing more than the usual chaos of an Indian railway station. Nobody seemed unduly worried.

Later I was joined by a Belgian lady waiting for the same train. She went to check on the train time but when she returned, she was very pale.

She had been directed to the main waiting area by an official. There she found a large crowd of people and was confronted with a scene of destruction. There was blood on the floor and victims were receiving medical care.

She was told that a bomb had exploded and that many people had died.

'Pools of blood'

Empty railway station after the blast
The blast occurred in the main waiting area of the railway station
The blast occurred very close to the main entrance of the train station where there is a large waiting area with seats and a tourist information counter.

The crater was right in front of this counter and the sign, "assistance for foreign tourists" had been blown to the floor. There was blood all around.

I surveyed the damage from the balcony surrounding the waiting area, and was surprised to see that the scene was not cordoned off. Police and bystanders were milling around the hall, walking close to the smears of still-wet blood.

A crater approximately two foot in diameter and one foot deep had been surrounded by a circle of bricks, and appeared to be the spot where the bomb had gone off.

All the windows overlooking the large room had been blown out, and the floor was littered with broken glass. Several pools of blood lay on the floor, with personal possessions scattered around.

'No commotion'

People react differently here to how they would in the UK. There was no panic. Trains were still coming and going. People were curious and many were wandering around the scene.

I was very shaken. Something so dramatic happened so close to me. I was not just in the same town as the bomb blast, I was at the very station where it happened.

I was quite upset when I saw all the blood around. I feel fortunate but so sad that something like this has happened.


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