Briton who survived the Oberoi slaughter

By Marcus Dysch, December 4, 2008

A businesswoman has recalled the chilling details of her ordeal in the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai.

Toni Nagel was rescued by Indian commandos after 18 hours barricaded with a friend as terrorists killed three guests in neighbouring rooms.
Thirty-two people were killed at the luxury hotel, with 135 others evacuated.

“The shooting started while I was in the lift,” said Ms Nagel, who was in Mumbai on business. “By the time I got out the atrium was deserted. There was senseless shooting going on in the lobby.

“The thing that sticks in my mind more than anything is the desire to kill and maim as many people as possible. I saw one gunman and then another and told my colleague to get into the room.”

Ms Nagel, a diamond broker from Bayswater, West London, used furniture to block the door. She and her friend were forced to smash the windows after smoke from explosions and gun fights threatened to choke them.

“We had TV reception for the first 12 hours and there was live coverage from around Mumbai. We heard that the army had taken control of the Oberoi, but knew that was not the case because we could hear what was going on.

“I had friends on other floors and we were able to speak on our phones. It was a bit surreal but we helped each other. Phone calls from home helped fill in gaps in information.”

Ms Nagel estimated her chances of escaping alive at no more than 50 per cent.

But on Thursday afternoon, commandos banged on the door.

“I was sceptical and anxious about opening it. We decided that one way or another whoever was there would force it open, so we let them in.
They told us we would be safe, but we did not feel particularly safe.

“It was another two hours [before we were evacuated] because there was confusion about how they would get us out. They didn’t know where the terrorists were.”

Ms Nagel, 44, arrived back in London on Friday morning, in time to take her two children to school.

    Last updated: 6:09pm, December 4 2008