Lynne Shaw: "I thought we were going to be executed"
A Welsh couple caught up in the attacks in Mumbai have spoken how "little decisions" and "timing" saved their lives over in India.
Lynne and Ken Shaw, from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, arrived home from their ordeal on Friday on a flight arranged by the British Consulate.
The couple had to hide under a table as attackers stormed the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel where they had been staying.
They were rescued by the Indian army in the morning after the attacks.
At least 170 people have been killed after gunmen targeted at least seven sites in the Indian city late on Wednesday.
"Little decisions that night just timing saved our lives," said Mrs Shaw, who works as a bichemist in Llandough Hospital, near Cardiff.
"We'd chosen to eat in the Chinese restaurant at about 8.30pm and we were finishing our meal at about 10pm and I heard gunfire in the corridor.
The couple were led through a "rabbit warren of corridors" in the hotel.
"I think we were the only ones that had reacted to it because it was just a short burst and all of sudden there was a very long burst of gunfire.
"One of the staff said 'Get down! Get down!' And then the kitchen staff were beckoning to us for us to come out through the kitchen area."
The couple, who had stayed at the hotel twice before during previous trips to India, were led through the rabbit warren of corridors at the back of the building and led to a conference area called the Chamber where they remained for several hours as the carnage unfolded around them.
"From that moment on things started to deteriorate," explained Mrs Shaw. "At about 2.30am they announced they were going to try and move us out.
"They wanted the women to go first and I said no - I was going to stay with my husband because I felt I could cope with it if we were together.
If I'd chosen to wear high shoes and a dress it wouldn't have been quite so easy to move around and escape from things that were happening to us
"But if we were separated and something happened I was going to be much happier to be with him."
They were taken to another kitchen area before being led along a corridor to what they thought was safety in groups of six.
"The group ahead of us were at the end of the corridor, which was probably about 20 yards long and I was held probably 10 yards into the corridor standing talking to a member of staff," she said.
"My husband was behind me and all of a sudden gunfire broke out in the corridor and they had executed a six-year-old in front of his parents.
"My life was saved because as I was running I stumbled and I think that really saved me as I fell back into the room.
"If I'd chosen to wear high shoes and a dress it wouldn't have been quite so easy to move around and escape from things that were happening to us."
They dived into the nearest room and for the next six hours hid under a table as the sounds of gunfire and explosions rang out around them.
"At 9am men suddenly burst into the room, they had rifles and they were screaming 'Stand up! Stand up! Put your hands up!' and of course people were scrambling to their feet.
Hopefully life will feel normal again because it certainly doesn't feel normal at the moment
"Then they started to drive us to a stairwell and at that stage I thought this is the end.
"As we were being herded down stairwells, I thought they just want to get us all crammed together so they can take us all out at the same time.
"It was very, very confusing who was friends and who were terrorists."
Luckily, the husband and wife were in the hands of Indian army personnel and they were led to safety at the front of the hotel where they were put onto a bus.
Unfortunately, as they thought they were nearing safety the bus came under sniper fire and they couple had to run to safety.
In the crossfire in the street they ran into two Australians who took them to their national consulate and from there they were taken to the British Consulate who arranged their emergency passports and papers and a flight home.
"We were just so lucky that where we had chosen to eat, rather than the Indian restaurant where they had immediately gone in and started machine gunning everybody - we were across the corridor," said Mrs Shaw.
"The fact that we were slow eating our meal and a couple of minutes later - if we'd been leaving - we'd have walked straight into them.
"It was just surreal - you couldn't believe it was happening.
"All our belongings are still there - I'd be very surprised if we saw them again - but at least we're alive and 140 people are not.
"I was hopeful until about six in the morning, Ken was acting as my body armour most of the night, and we whispered to each other that we really didn't think we were going to get out of this.
"And then at 9am when they burst in, then I was seriously frightened because I thought this really is the end.
"It wasn't until they gave me a glass of champagne about 20 minutes into the flight, that was the first time I wept because I knew how lucky we had been to get out.
"We haven't slept for three nights. It's been surreal, the whole thing.
"Hopefully life will feel normal again because it certainly doesn't feel normal at the moment."
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