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Friday, November 28, 2008

Attack on Mumbai: Snapshots of victims begin to emerge

The identities of victims in the Mumbai attacks began to emerge Friday in small snapshots, underscoring the confusion gripping the city as authorities attempt to restore order.At least 125 people were killed Wednesday night in a string of terrorist attacks on several high-traffic landmarks, many of which are frequented by tourists. The gunfire and grenade explosions were indiscriminate, catching Westerners and Asians, businessmen and civilians in their path. Much of the available information relates to victims who were foreigners. Limited reports have circulated about victims from India, though some of the first fatalities reported were Indians.

Maharashtra state's Anti-Terrorism Squad chief, Hemant Karkare, was leading an offensive against gunmen late Wednesday when he was shot three times in the chest, media reported. Karkare, who joined the Indian Police Service in 1982, became ATS chief in January after spending seven years in Austria at the Research and Analysis Wing, Indian's external foreign intelligence agency, according Media Reorts.Mumbai Police Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamote and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar were killed in clashes at the Metro Cinema, where hotel guests some were evacuated to after leaving the hotels.British yacht magnate Andreas Liveras was pronounced dead in a hospital just hours after he placed a call to the British Broadcasting Corp. from a crowded basement in the Taj hotel, the news agency reported.
The duty officer of the Cypriot minister of foreign affairs confirmed that Liveras, who was born in Cyprus, died in the attacks but provided no further information. Japanese businessman Hisashi Tsuda was shot to death in the lobby of the Oberoi Hotel as he was checking in Wednesday night, Masakazu Sato, president of Mitsui Marubeni Liquefied Gas, said Thursday in Tokyo, according to media reports. "Mr. Tsuda was a very outgoing person with a bright future," Sato said, according to The Daily Yomiuri Online. "We're overwhelmed with regret at losing such a promising colleague to an act of terrorism. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family."
The father of two died at a hospital after he was shot in the leg, chest and abdomen, The Daily Yomiuri reported. Australian Brett Gilbert Taylor, 49, was also gunned down Wednesday, a spokesman for his country's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Friday. Taylor, who owned a small business, was staying at the Oberoi with colleagues from a New South Wales trade delegation, the Australian Broadcast Corporation reported. The family of Douglas Markell of New South Wales also confirmed that Markell had died in the attacks, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an e-mail.The department said that it has accounted for most of the 76 Australians it believes were in areas directly affected by the attacks but that some remained trapped inside hotels under siege. Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini also expressed condolences to the family of Antonio Di Lorenzo, who was killed in the attacks, Frattini said in a statement on his Web site. No further details were available

Tweeting the terror: How social media reacted to Mumbai

The minute news broke of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai, India, social media sites like Twitter were inundated with a huge volume of messages. With more than 6 million members worldwide, an estimated 80 messages, or "tweets," were being sent to Twitter.com via SMS every five seconds, providing eyewitness accounts and updates. Many Twitter users also sent pleas for blood donors to make their way to specific hospitals in Mumbai where doctors were faced with low stocks and rising casualties. Others sent information about helplines and contact numbers for those who had friends and relatives caught up in the attacks. Tweeters were also mobilized to help with transcribing a list of the dead and injured from hospitals, which were quickly posted online. As Twitter user "naomieve" wrote: "Mumbai is not a city under attack as much as it is a social media experiment in action." Neha Viswanathan, a former regional editor for Southeast Asia and a volunteer at Global Voices, told CNN, "Even before I actually heard of it on the news I saw stuff about this on Twitter. "People were sending in messages about what they were hearing. There were at least five or six blogs from people who were trapped, or who were very close to what happened." One tweet from "Dupree" appeared to be coming from inside one of the hotels: "Mumbai terrorists are asking hotel reception for rooms of American citizens and holding them hostage on one floor." A group of Mumbai-based bloggers turned their Metroblog into a news wire service, while the blog MumbaiHelp offered to help users get through to their family and friends in the city, or to get information about them, and has had a number of successes. Flickr also proved a useful source of haunting images chronicling the aftermath of the attacks. Journalist Vinukumar Ranganathan's stream of photos were published by CNN and other major broadcasters. A Google Map showing the key locations and buildings with links to news stories and eyewitness accounts, and CNN's iReporters flooded the site with their videos and images of the terror attacks. However, as is the case with such widespread dissemination of information, a vast number of the posts on Twitter amounted to unsubstantiated rumors and wild inaccuracies.
For example, a rumor that the Indian government was asking tweeters to stop live updates to avoid compromising its security efforts was published and republished on the site.
This was seemingly given credence by at least one major news Web site, which posted the tweet on its live update. It read simply: "Indian government asks for live Twitter updates from Mumbai to cease immediately. ALL LIVE UPDATES - PLEASE STOP TWEETING."
Then it was suggested via Twitter that terrorists were using the medium to gain information about what Indian security forces were doing, which led to numerous abusive postings urging the terrorists to "die, die, die, if you're reading this."
As blogger Tim Mallon put it, "I started to see and (sic) ugly side to Twitter, far from being a crowd-sourced version of the news it was actually an incoherent, rumour-fueled mob operating in a mad echo chamber of tweets, re-tweets and re-re-tweets.
"During the hour or so I followed on Twitter there were wildly differing estimates of the numbers killed and injured - ranging up to 1,000."
What is clear that although Twitter remains a useful tool for mobilizing efforts and gaining eyewitness accounts during a disaster, the sourcing of most of the news cannot be trusted.
A quick trawl through the enormous numbers of tweets showed that most were sourced from mainstream media. Someone tweets a news headline, their friends see it and retweet, prompting an endless circle of recycled information


hitch writer November 28, 2008 at 4:38 PM  

I just hope that we can trace the plannners of this attack from the terrorists we have caught and they are made to pay for this.

I hope all this is not forgotten in a week or a month.

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