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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 July 2006, 18:15 GMT 19:15 UK
Mumbai relatives' desperate uncertainty
By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

Mourners with body of Mumbai train bombings
Some cannot grieve because their loved ones have not been found
Dilip Pandire has been looking frantically for his brother-in-law Sunil Birwadkar since he heard of the railway blasts in Mumbai on Tuesday evening.

"He always takes the 5.50 pm train to come home from work. He did the same on Tuesday. But he hasn't come home," he said.

Mr Pandire and other relatives and friends of Mr Birwadkar have been searching for him frantically ever since.

He told the BBC that all he has managed to find so far are his relative's watch and wallet from the railway police. Other inquiries with authorities have come to naught.

"We've been to every private and municipal hospital, checked out all possible lists but still no trace of him. We haven't even found his body so that we know for sure what has happened to him," he said.

'No help'

Irshad Kasim Mujawad rushed to Mumbai from the small town of Solapur in Maharashtra - of which Mumbai is the capital - as soon as he received a phone call.

"The call was from my brother Abbas last evening. He said he had been injured in the blasts, was using someone else's phone and that I should come to get him," he said.

Friends with Joseph Noronha's passport picture
Some relatives only have poor quality pictures of their loved ones

Mr Mujawad said he rushed to Mumbai immediately and went directly to the hospitals where the injured people were being treated.

"My brother had not mentioned where he was so I am visiting one hospital after another. I have been to two hospitals already and since his name was not on the list, they wouldn't let me in.

"I have been here, in Sion hospital, for the last two hours yet no one is willing to help me."

Mr Mujawad then managed to get hold of the hospital list of wounded and dead people and went through it carefully.

His brother's name was not there.

"I am beginning to get worried now," he said, "but I won't leave until I find him."

Trauma

According to figures given by the police control room, of the 773 people wounded in the blasts, 326 are still being treated in over 30 hospitals across the city while the rest have been discharged.

And of over 200 dead bodies, 173 have been identified and handed over to the respective families while two are unidentified and six are yet to be claimed.

AJ Lewis
I've asked his wife and older sister to come here and identify him. Until then, it is one painful wait
AJ Lewis, relative of Mumbai train bomb victim

Authorities have put up lists of those admitted in various hospitals as well as on their websites in an attempt to help families trace their missing relatives.

But there are some who continue to face the trauma of not knowing where their loved ones are.

AJ Lewis was one such person on Thursday morning.

He was travelling in the same train as his brother-in-law Joseph Noronha on Tuesday when the explosion took place in the first class compartment.

He only escaped because he was travelling in the second class compartment that was two carriages away. Mr Noronha was not so lucky as he was travelling first class.

Completely destroyed

When Mr Lewis reached home, he heard that Mr Noronha had not returned from work. He began searching for him on Tuesday night, but two days later he still has no idea where his brother-in-law was.

Couple cries after hearing of a relative's death
While some grieve, others can only wait

After visiting all the city's hospitals, he finally ended at Sion hospital where they thought a body looked like that of Mr Noronha.

"There was no scalp, only the lower jaw that looked like his. I couldn't make it out and I hoped it was not him. I've asked his wife and older sister to come here and identify him. Until then, it is one painful wait."

They arrived at the hospital late afternoon. The body was not Mr Noronha's.

But another corpse lying in the hospital morgue was. The face had been completely destroyed but Mr Noronha's sister made a positive identification.

It was only on Thursday evening that Mr Lewis' search finally ended.

Others still have to wait.




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