‘There Was A Piercing Sound, Smoke Engulfed Us’: Witnesses Recount Horror of Bengaluru’s Rameshwaram Cafe Blast sattaex.com

Two low-intensity improvised explosive devices (IEDs) went off within five seconds at the popular Bengaluru-based south Indian restaurant Rameshwaram Cafe on Friday while people had filled the place to have their afternoon meals, authorities told News18.

Witness reports have been varying as most were in fear after being part of the explosive episode.

(From top) Blast witnesses Amruth (in red t-shirt), Harish, and Sachin Lamani. Pics/News18

“We were standing and eating when suddenly there was a piercing sound and smoke engulfed us. We thought it was a cylinder blast and it felt like it came from the kitchen side of the restaurant. There was thick smoke all around and we could hardly breathe,” said Amruth, who works in a nearby IT company.

CCTV footage that has been handed over to the investigating agencies shows that at 12:55:32, a blast takes place near the washbasin area of the cafe, followed by a bigger one at 12:55:37, which causes the roof of the restaurant to collapse and forces people to run helter-skelter in fear.

Within minutes, the place was engulfed in black smoke and witnesses told News18 that they saw a few people fallen on the ground, unconscious due to the impact of the blasts.

It is suspected that a bag was placed below the washbasin area and that could have contained the explosive devices, police sources say.

Harish, a local trader whose shop is located adjacent to Rameshwaram Cafe, came running when he heard the blast. He tried to enter the place, but the thick smoke and falling debris stopped him in his tracks.

“I saw a lady asking for help. She was badly injured and then we quickly asked the autorickshaws plying nearby to help move the victims to the nearest hospital,” he told this reporter.

Young engineering student Shanthala, who had been passing by, sat on the pavement, as she was shocked to see the cracked glass and feel the tremor from the blast.

“I thought it was a cylinder blast, but it was so big. For one second, I thought the whole place was going to blow up. I was too shocked to even move. I was an athlete in school and at this time my feet would not even move. It felt like lead,” she said, recounting her horror.

Sachin Lamani, the security guard who was on duty, was also in a daze. News reporters were buzzing around him asking him questions on what he saw, and he kept recounting his experience.

“I was outside the restaurant but I briefly saw somebody place a bag in a tiffin box shape. Then the blast happened, and all I could see were people screaming for help and running around. I have told the police all that I saw,” Lamani told News18.

Nine people have been injured and a woman is said to have sustained 40 per cent burn and shrapnel injuries while others reportedly suffered minor injuries and are undergoing treatment at local private hospitals.

Medical director of Brookefield Hospital Dr Pradeep Kumar said three of the injured are out of danger.

“Two customers and a staffer are admitted to the hospital. One of them, a woman of 45 years of age, has suffered 40 per cent burn injuries, mostly on the right side of her body. She is being treated in the ICU. She has suffered cuts on the right side of her body and will need plastic surgery. Her eardrum is also damaged due to the explosion sound,” Dr Kumar said.

When asked what the injury tells about the blast, Dr Kumar said that it was probably a low-intensity explosion as there were “no rip-off injuries, including that of the woman”.

“Their clothes have been handed over to the forensic experts for analysis,” the doctor further said.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said, “CCTV is being examined. Someone had kept a bag there. The police are saying it is an IED; we do not know whether it is a terror attack.”

The entire top brass of the Karnataka police including state DGP Alok Mohan, Bengaluru police commissioner B Dayananda, internal security division ADGP M Chandrashekar, apart from National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials arrived on the scene to assess the gravity of the blasts and gather evidence to understand the reason behind this attack.

Authorities at blast site. Pic/News18

Police sources told News18 that preliminary investigations indicated that IEDs had been used with a timer trigger device along with nuts and bolts that were found strewn on the ground. The local NIA team along with the bomb squad have also collected evidence from the spot to analyse how the explosives would have been made.

“Forensic teams are collecting evidence. We will find out who did this, but right now we do not want to speculate,” DGP Mohan told the media.

Managing director and founder of Rameshwaram Cafe Divya Raghavendra Rao has said that the blast had not happened due to any cylinder or any kitchen-related equipment.

“There is only a handwashing area near the sink, a place to collect plates, and a dustbin. Other equipment is placed at the back of the restaurant. Some people have informed us that a bag was kept near the handwashing area and we also found the bag near the spot,” she told the media.

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