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Covering the Manila hostage scene: Gunfire, SWAT teams, blood

From Anna Coren, CNN
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Tour bus hostage nightmare
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN crew arrives on the scene just before gunfire begins
  • They are in line of fire, duck behind van
  • Bus driver escapes, runs by media
  • CNN crew examines scene afterward, sees bullet holes, blood, human remains

Manila, Philippines (CNN) -- We arrived just as it was all unfolding. We got on the scene at about 6:30 p.m. and it was shortly afterward that gunshots were fired. We then went live into the 7 p.m. show and there were more exchanges of gunfire.

There were dozens of police and SWAT teams. They were trying to smash the bus windows and they were taking cover on the sides of the bus. We were about 100 meters away.

At one stage, there was serious machine gunfire -- we could smell the smoke from barrage. Amid the firefight, there was a torrential thunderstorm, with claps of thunder piercing the sound of the gunfire.

We had to take cover behind a van, as we were pretty much in the line of fire.

Video: Inside the mind of a hostage
Video: Hostage taker sprayed weapons fire
Video: Driver of hostage bus escapes

One minute, the situation was under control; the next, it was out of control.

As the gunfight intensified, it was pretty obvious that there was no peaceful way out.

One thing I found striking: We couldn't see any movement on the bus. There were all these shots being fired from inside and outside -- we didn't know if any of the hostages were still alive.

The bus driver jumped out the window and ran by us, running for his life. It was hard to believe that this was happening; what we couldn't see, we could hear.

Afterward, the access that we had to the crime scenes was staggering.

We were able to walk right up to the bus. We could see the bullet holes, the smashed glass, the blood; there were human remains on the asphalt. It was unfathomable.

After all that gunfire, I didn't expect anyone to be alive. When we heard that people survived, we thought it was a miracle.