ISLAMABAD (AFP) — The owner of the luxury Islamabad hotel that was reduced to a blackened shell by a massive suicide bomb appealed on Tuesday for donations to help the families of dead and injured employees.
The bomber rammed a truck containing 600 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) of high explosives into the outer gates of the Marriott Hotel in Pakistan's capital on September 20, killing at least 60 people.
The blast and resulting fires killed about 40 hotel staff, including security guards who desperately tried to avert the disaster. Scores of other employees were wounded.
"We have set up a fund to cater for the future expenses of the families of employees either killed or wounded in the attack," Sadruddin Hashwani told reporters gathered by the hotel's empty swimming pool.
Announcing he would make an initial donation of 10 million Pakistani rupees (126,000 US dollars) to the fund, he appealed for people to donate generously.
"All those employees who were killed in the attack were just like my own family members and I will now take care of their kids and families," said Hashwani, one of Pakistan's richest men.
"I will rebuild the hotel even better than before and make it a fortress," he said as hundreds of labourers worked to repair the building.
Hashwami repeated his vow that the hotel would reopen on December 30.
The bombing, which officials suspect was carried out by Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, wrecked all 250 guest rooms and vaporised the glass lobby where guests were checked by X-ray machines.
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