Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Relatives anxious for Mumbai news

By Murray Cox
BBC News

Aarti Betigeri and Jason Staines
The attacks will not stop Aarti Betigeri and Jason Staines emigrating

The attacks in Mumbai have led to tense times in Britain for people with family and friends in the city.

Anxious relatives have been glued to the news for up-to-date information all the while trying to reach their loved ones for reassurance they are safe.

One British national has been killed and seven injured after gunmen mounted attacks across the city, the Foreign Office has said.

The gunmen are reported to have been targeting US and UK citizens.

As news of the attacks unfolded Ash Kumar spent an increasingly nervous night trying to get hold of his brother and his father who are on holiday together in India.

When Mr Kumar, from Birmingham, last spoke to them about three days ago they were in Mumbai.

He said he made repeated attempts to reach his father and brother on their mobile phone, but with each failure his sense of anxiety grew.

'Grim situation'

However, Mr Kumar said: "I have just spoken to my brother and my father and I can't really put into words the relief that I feel.

"I had been up all night, and I was so worried that I couldn't get through to them. I was trying and trying to reach them.

"It turns out they had moved on from the city and knew very little about what was going on."

Mr Kumar explained that his brother and father had travelled onto Punjab, and that mobile phone reception had been difficult as a result.

"I have told them to take extra care until they come home on 12 December. I really will be extra pleased to see them."

Chander Hingorani, from London, said his retired brother and other relatives live in Mumbai.

Chander Hingorani
Chander Hingorani would travel to Mumbai immediately

"I have spoken to them and they are okay because they are not near the area where these attacks have been happening. They probably live six or seven miles away," he said.

"The situation is grim and the mood is not good - it's very tense, but the people are very positive and they won't let this affect them."

He said that with the stock exchange being closed many more businesses would have closed as a result, like the financial services industry where some of his relatives work.

"I would go there tomorrow if I could. I think people will be surprised by how resilient the city is," said Mr Hingorani.

His note of defiance echoed the sentiments of Aarti Betigeri and Jason Staines, who are emigrating to Mumbai.

The married couple, both freelance journalists, were due to fly out from London on Monday, but have delayed their departure by one week.

'Wait a week'

Ms Betigeri said: "We have been glued to the television since we heard about it. At this stage we are just waiting to see what happens. I have been in contact with friends and family out there and they say to wait a week."

The 31-year-old said her family in Mumbai were concerned about reprisals and whether the attacks might spark a cycle of sectarian violence.

She added: "My parents are very philosophical about it, because it's probably not going to happen again next week."

Mr Staines, 36, said he was also trying to be sanguine.

"It's happened in London, it's happened in Madrid, so there's really no way of knowing where it could happen next."

He added: "We're still going. We can't live our lives wondering if a terrorist attack might happen."

The Foreign Office has issued an emergency number for people with relatives in Mumbai: 0207 008 0000.

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