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Bali exodus beginning DENPASAR - Foreigners are waiting anxiously at Bali international airport for a flight home as a potentially devastating exodus began building up following the horrendous bomb attack on two bars packed with tourists, many of them Australian. Italian tourist Simone Tedeschi said he was at the Sari Club on Bali's famous tourist drag in Kuta last night when the huge car bomb went off, killing at least 182 people.
"God still bless me I'm still alive," said Tedeschi, who suffered cuts and bruises on his arms and legs. "I'm very afraid. I was going to stay here for 20 days but I'm leaving after just one week," he said. Jeppe Lindqvist, a surfer from Sweden, said he was having dinner with seven friends at a restaurant only 30 metres from the scene of the explosion.
"I heard a loud bang and the roof of the restaurant caved in," he said. Lindqvist said it would be a long time until he decided to return to Bali for a holiday, or "probably never". "People said that Bali is the safest place for tourists but I can't rely on that anymore," he said, adding that he would have to wait for 12 hours before getting a flight home. The explosion destroyed the bars in the tourist district and triggered an intense blaze which burned for hours as rescuers struggled to rescue injured people.
Many Australians were among the casualties and the country's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, said it appeared the blast was a terrorist attack and he pointed the finger of suspicion at al-Qaeda. Bali receives hundreds of thousands of tourists from Australia, Europe and the United States every year, and local hoteliers fear the attack will leave the local tourism industry in ruins.
"This is at the very heart of Bali's tourist district, it is simply disastrous for us," the chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), I Gede Wiratha, told AFP. Garuda Indonesia president Indra Setiawan said the Indonesian state airline was making several aircraft available to help any evacuation efforts from Bali if necessary.
"We are ready if we are asked to help the evacuation," Setiawan told the Elshinta private radio station before flying to Bali. He said reports he received showed that there was an increase in demand for flight seats out of Bali early today, but he attributed the demand to "initial panic". Setiawan said his airline was ready, if asked, to provide planes to evacuate people from Bali to Jakarta or other destinations abroad.
"But the priority would be for the victims," he said. Qantas Airways today announced extra flights to ferry home Australians from Bali. The airline's chief executive Geoff Dixon said the airline was also flying in additional staff to help meet the needs of Australians in Bali and laying on extra flights for those eager to return home. Many of those killed and injured on the popular resort island are believed to be Australians.
Indonesian police spokesman Suyatmo said earlier today that police had tightened surveillance at the main points of entry and exit on the island, including the airport. National Police spokesman Saleh Saaf said in Jakarta that the heightened surveillance was aimed at "reducing the moving space of the perpetrators".


Link to related event Related event:
Bali terrorist attack


Posted in Tourism @ 13 October 2002 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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