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‘It’s like a war zone here’

“I saw a baby torn to bits,” said train passenger Ana Maria Mayor, her voice cracking. In the aftermath of the deadly bombing in the Spanish capital, witness recalled the devastation on Thursday.
Two people injured by an explosion wait for aid outside the Atocha train station in Madrid on Thursday.Jose Huesca / AP
/ Source: news services

Anibal Altamirano said fellow commuters around him were too stunned to move when the first bomb blew apart a train during rush hour Thursday morning.

When a second blast hit the busy Atocha station a few minutes later, everyone fled in panic.

“People dropped everything — bags and shoes — and ran, many trampling on others,” said Altamirano, a 26-year-old Ecuadorian who was at the station a few blocks south of Madrid’s famed Prado Museum.

“People didn’t know which way to go,” he said. “Some even went into the train tunnels without thinking other trains could be coming.”

Carmen Perez, a lawyer in her 40s, said that “it’s like a war zone here.”

“This is so savage you can’t even describe it. Madrid is totally paralyzed, it’s total chaos, it’s horrible,” she said, breaking down in tears.

Train passenger Ana Maria Mayor, her voice cracking, said: “I saw a baby torn to bits.”

'So much blood'
The blasts that ripped through the heart of Madrid in the morning rush hour on Thursday left pools of blood like in a battlefield.

Firefighter Juan Redondo, arriving at the El Pozo station just east of downtown Madrid, found a scene he described as “butchery on a brutal scale.”

At least 70 bodies lay on the platform, near where two bombs tore through a double-decker train.

“It looked like a platform of death,” Redondo said. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. The recovery of the bodies was very difficult. We didn’t know what to pick up.”

Enrique Sanchez, an ambulance man for 20 years, said he, too, had never seen such carnage.

“There were all kinds of facial wounds, amputations, broken bones,” Sanchez said. “There was blood everywhere, so much blood.”

Sanchez was in a crew that raced to Atocha station to help the wounded on bombed commuter trains that were ripped open like tuna cans.

Offering prayers
Everyone from street sweepers to fellow commuters lent a hand to the bloodied and the broken.

Passengers wept as they heard or told of bodies in pieces on the tracks.

Sanchez offered help to people worried about friends and relatives inside.

“Just pray,” he told one bystander among the many held back by police.

An elderly man, with no visible wounds, seemed to have lost his nerve. Two people had to escort him to an ambulance.

Many Madrid residents frantically called family and friends on cellphones to see if they were alright. Some would never get through.

“On many bodies, we could hear the person’s mobile phones ringing as we carted them away,” said Dr. Beatriz Martin, who tended to victims at El Pozo.