Mumbai Bombing: Diamond Trade Live-Blog

As we get information about the aftermath of today’s terrible events in Mumbai, I will post it here …

As the head of the Rapaport office noted in her eyewitness account, with bombs exploding in both Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar, it does appear the trade was targeted.  There is some question exactly where the bomb went off; according to the Times of India, it exploded about 500 meters from the Panchratna Building in Opera House, which is filled with diamond traders.

We don’t have any information if any member of the trade was injured or killed; the dealers that I’ve spoken to say they haven’t heard anything. 

Anyone with any information is welcome to email me or post it below. Our thoughts are with our friends in India, particularly the victims and their families.

UPDATE: One diamond dealer, Apoorva Mehta, gave an eyewitness account of the explosion to Rediff here. There are other first-person accounts of the tragedy here.

According to the Times of India’s stream of live updates:

A group of diamond brokers was the first to react as soon as the bomb went off outside Panchratna Building in Opera House. They bundled bodies of bloodied men into taxis to take them to hospital without waiting to see if they were dead or alive. 

The Guardian’s live-blog quotes an eyewitness: “The standard conclusion is that terrorists groups or their masters have some kind of vested interest in the diamond market, although there is no evidence, and only a few anecdotes to validate this theory.” 

UPDATE 2: Diamond traders vent concerns about their security situation in the Times of India and the Hindustan Times.  While some have seen this as an industry-targeted attack, these sites could also have been targeted because they are crowded; one trader noted that up to 5,000 people go through the area every minute.

I’ve read comments that traders are worried that foreign buyers will be reluctant to come to India in the future. It is a sad fact that several of the major diamond cities—including New York, Tel Aviv, and London—have had experiences with terrorism. For people to stay away is just what the terrorists want. Buyers returned after the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. I believe they will return again. 

Some cautious words from India’s General Insurance Company:

“We had issued a warning in the past [about Opera House] and we will speak
to insurance companies again that the maximum terror cover that can be provided
per location is around Rs 750 crore,” said Yogesh Lohiya, chairman, GIC.

Not that this is top of mind for people right now, but this terrible incident could speed up the Indian industry’s move to the more modern, and one would hope, more secure, Bharat bourse. Even now, most diamond companies remain at Opera House.

UPDATE 3:   As terrible as this incident is, the industry doesn’t appear to have sustained massive casualites. One diamond trader was just quoted as saying, “The death toll is not very high at the moment, but many people have been injured in the blast.” In the Economic Times, Mumbai’s police commissioner estimated that 25 to 30 people were “seriously injured at Opera House.” (The toll from all three attacks is currently said to be 21 dead, over 140 injured.)

Meanwhile, the trade is determined not to let this incident impact it. In the same article, Sanjay Khotari of the Gem and Jewellery Promotion Council gives this comment:

it [will] be business as usual tomorrow. We can’t stop working….if we do, we’ll be playing into the hands of terrorists responsible for this blast.

Along those lines, the Diamond Dealers Club of New York has released a statement from president Moshe Mosbacher:

On behalf of the New York trade, I pledge to our colleagues in India that we will do all that we can to ensure that life will continue as before, and the ties and relationships that connect us will be strengthened. We stand alongside them and the people of India during this difficult time.

Well said. 

UPDATE 4 (7/14): Rapaport and Idex both write this morning that diamond dealers were among the fatalities, but no other information is available. Idex notes that it was raining and the market was slowing at the time of the attack, which likely kept people away from the bomb blast area and reduced casualties. 

The toll from the blast has been revised slightly downward to 18 killed, about 131 injured, according to press sources.

Regarding what I wrote above about the Bharat bourse, an article in an Indian publication notes that many dealers are reluctant to transfer to the new location because it’s located near a slum area, and they worry about their couriers transporting diamonds.

The industry is closing Friday for a day of mourning.

UPDATE 5: I have just posted a story with some fresh information here.

UPDATE 6: A big, frightening story in the Hindustan Times: The Pancharatna building may have been the bomb’s real target. But tight security prevented that, thereby averting a bigger tragedy. 

Some other interesting links:

– Amid chaos, dealers fear diamond losses.

– Some dealers still wary about Bharat bourse.

– Calls for special
security force for industry.

– Surat dealers shut shops in
solidarity
.

The Economist profiles the “diamond geezers” in Opera House.

JCK News Director