Mumbai terror attack – ORT staff have lucky escape


17 July 2006 ORT staff escape Mumbai bomb horror Some of ORTs 40 staff in Mumbai (Bombay) have had a narrow escape from the series of bomb blasts that tore through the citys rush hour rail system. Seven bombs hit the evening commuter services killing at least 160 people and injuring hundreds more. ORT India Director Benjamin Isaac paid tribute to his 40 staff, almost all of whom managed to make it into work this morning and covered for those colleagues who have been stranded in outlying suburbs because of continued disruptions to transport. Theres an excellent team spirit among staff which has allowed us to open today, Mr Isaac said. There was a lot of anxiety among parents about whether to send their children into school today. But we urged them to send their children, and our kindergarten, which normally has 140 two- to five-year-olds, has had 70 per cent attendance. Other activities at the ORT India School and Vocational Training Centre are also operating normally while many other schools in the city have closed. The Early Childhood Care and Education course has 99 per cent attendance, the computer classes are going full swing and the IATA travel and tourism course is also taking place as usual, Mr Isaac said. Children and staff at the ORT India kindergarten. Islamist terrorist groups are the prime suspects for last nights terrorist attack but Mr Isaac did not feel that the Jewish community would now be under greater threat. India has traditionally been a safe and tolerant home for Jews and while theres been a gradual increase in a sense of insecurity in recent years I think the Jewish community here is too small to be counted as a target, he said. Mr Isaac said that some of his colleagues had had narrow escapes. One ORT staff member had just left his train at Santacruz when the train on the parallel track exploded; another colleague was at Mira Road station when a bomb exploded at the opposite end of the train he was on. An independent auditor currently working at ORT survived the attack on his train but found himself surrounded by dozens of corpses. My daughter was missing for several hours last night, Mr Isaac said. She left the office at 6pm but because of the disruption to the train services she had to walk and didnt arrive home until 10.30pm. Mumbai has been hit by a series of incidents over the past two weeks: monsoon rains flooded the city causing widespread disruption and the city was closed last Sunday because of rioting. July has been a terrible month, Mr Isaac said. But the people of Bombay bounce back very quickly from these things in a way that you dont find in any other part of India. Mr Isaac said he and his colleagues had been deeply touched by the concern shown by people around the world. We have had calls from people all around the world asking after us and not just ORT people, he said. People at the JDC have also called as have Taglit-birthright, with whom we arranged last months tour of Israel for 40 Indian Jews. On behalf of everyone here at ORT I would like to thank everyone who has thought of us and shown concern for our welfare. World ORT, founded in 1880, is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation with some 270,000 students Jewish and non-Jewish in 58 countries.