We were five minutes away from death: Fleming
SINGAPORE: New Zealand cricket captain Stephen Fleming said on Thursday that his team had been five minutes from death when a huge bomb was detonated outside their hotel in Pakistan.
“Without being dramatic, we were five minutes away from probably losing players,” Fleming said during a stopover in Singapore after the team abandoned their tour for security reasons following Wednesday’s blast.
Fourteen people were killed, 11 of them French navy engineers, when a suicide bomber in a car packed with explosives blew up a bus outside a luxury hotel in Karachi. The New Zealand team, staying in a hotel across the road, was preparing to leave the hotel when the bomber struck.
“It’s not something you really want to go into in detail, but I saw enough carnage that would stay with me and haunt me for the rest of my life,” Fleming said when asked to describe the scene after the blast. “Half the guys’ rooms were blown up. All the suitcases were full of glass and debris,” he said.
The bomb was not the team’s only brush with death in the last few years. A national side was in Sri Lanka in 1987 when a car bomb killed more than 100 people in the capital, Colombo, and five years later another bomb exploded outside their hotel in the same city.
Last year the team was again in Sri Lanka when a suicide attack by Tamil Tiger rebels closed Colombo’s international airport.
Original tour cancelled: The team was supposed to tour Pakistan last year, but cancelled in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington and the subsequent U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan. “From all accounts, this one was a lot closer,” Fleming told Reuters. “It’s just a matter of luck that none of our players or more people were hurt.”Team physiotherapist Dayle Shackel was the only New Zealand casualty, hurt by flying glass.
“He had a lot of glass in his arms,” Fleming said. “He was one guy who was on the team bus.”
Fleming was in the hotel restaurant about to eat breakfast when the bomb went off, but some of his teammates were on the way outside while others were preparing to leave their rooms. —Reuters