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Sunday November 30, 2008

Hema died of smoke inhalation, says consul-general

MUMBAI: Missing Malaysian Hema Kasipillay is confirmed dead and her partially charred remains were found in her room on level six of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel here at about midnight Malaysian time.

Malaysian Consul-general to India, Wan Zaidi Wan Abdullah, said Hema’s remains were identified by her husband K. Sivakumaran, at one of the hospitals here.

“The postmortem done on her revealed that she had died of smoke inhalation,” said Wan Zaidi, who is helping Hema’s husband to fly her remains to Kuala Lumpur today.

Hema had been missing since terrorists stormed the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel here on Wednesday night.

Hema: Missing since Thursday

Earlier yesterday, Sivakumaran who has been visiting several hospitals looking for Hema, told The Star that he had yet to tell his son and daughter, aged 19 and 18, about their missing mother.

“How am I going to tell my two children who are studying medicine in Russia that their mother has been missing following the terrorist attack.

“Since coming here late Friday, I, together with the consular-general and some friends, have been going to the hospitals checking to see if anyone has seen her,” he said.

The general manager of a security company in Kuala Lumpur said that he had gone to the hotel and through the consular-general appealed to the security force to check his wife’s room at 637.

He was told that the army was combing the hotel floor by floor.

The Taj Mahal Palace has 565 rooms and 25 floors and is adjacent to the Gateway of India monument.

Sivakumar said that his wife was supposed to attend a conference between Nov 25 and Dec 5.

Not giving up: Sivakumar showing a picture of Hema as he goes about looking for her in Mumbai Saturday.

“The last time I spoke to her was prior to her leaving for India. Then I get a call from family members on Nov 27 that such a thing had taken place,” he said with tears in his eyes.

“I’m also touched by my wife’s colleagues here who have also been going round with her photographs to the hospitals to look for her,” he said, adding that her company arranged for his stay and travel to look for his wife.

Wan Zaidi added that all the other 150 Malaysians in the city were accounted for.

Related stories:
Syed Hamid: No Malaysian link in attack
Damaged Taj Mahal Hotel bound to regain its glory

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