MUMBAI (AFP) - Eyewitnesses have described dramatic scenes of terror in the assault by the militants in Mumbai " from bodies in pools of blood to desperate hotel guests arming themselves with cleavers to survive.
Caught up in the brazen attack on India's financial hub, many said they cowered in the dark for hours, waiting to be rescued and fearing the militants would shoot them dead at any moment.
"We heard some gunshots. We barricaded the restaurant and we moved everybody into the kitchen," said Faisul Nagel, a South African security guard who was in the Taj Mahal Hotel with colleagues when the assault began. Using tables and refrigerators to barricade themselves in, Nagel said they armed themselves with the only weapons they could put their hands on.
Paul Guest, a retired Australian judge, was found by armed soldiers in his room at the Taj Mahal. He could scarcely believe what he saw when he was led to safety.
An unknown number of people were trapped in the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi/Trident, five-star hotels that were among a dozen sites attacked by militants on Wednesday night.
It was a harrowing night of terror for many, who tried not to make noise for fear of attracting the attention of the attackers. They feared coming out of their rooms, with the sound of shooting all around.
David Coker, 23, and his partner Katie Anstee, 24, had just arrived for a holiday to celebrate their graduation from university when they went to eat at Mumbai's Cafe Leopold on Wednesday night.
"We had literally just ordered and then it seemed like firecrackers " people were screaming," he told Australia's Courier-Mail newspaper.
Anstee was shot in the leg, with the bullet breaking her femur and exiting through the front of her thigh, while a bullet grazed Coker. "I turned around and she was crawling out the door because she couldn't walk," he said. Coker said the attackers looked "just like boys."
Garrick Harvison, who was trapped in the Oberoi with an Australian trade delegation, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he kept looking at pictures of his young family to remain calm during his ordeal.
Muneer al Mahaj, from the southern Iraqi city of Basra, got out of the Oberoi/Trident more than a day and a half after the assault began.
"I cannot believe what I have seen in the last 36 hours. I have seen dead bodies, blood everywhere," he said.
One man who did not survive was 73-year-old Andreas Liveras, who gave an interview to the BBC by phone while he was stuck inside the Taj Mahal.
He said that as he was speaking, "The last bomb exploded about 45 minutes ago and it shook the hotel up. Nobody comes in this room and nobody goes out, and we don't really know."
Meanwhile, shocked French witnesses gave harrowing accounts Friday of hiding under restaurant tables and running from explosions as India's financial hub Mumbai came under attack.
Johana, a 24-year-old tourist travelling with her cousin, was having dinner at the Leopold restaurant in Mumbai's Colaba tourist district when she spotted several young men with large rucksacks slung over their shoulders.
Michele Joulo and Pascal Brac were at a Colaba Restaurant when they heard gunfire and suddenly Indian soldiers turned up. They instructed people to stay calm.
"We quickly went back to our hotel. We were a few hundred metres from the Taj. We saw it burning. There were explosions everywhere," said Joulo.
The couple spent the night holed up in their hotel behind a large metal gate.