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Saturday night party in hell

Bali, Oct. 13 (Reuters): Bars were heaving, club dance floors were packed and throngs of sunburnt revellers — many in shorts, T-shirts and sandals — were spilling out on to the streets from open-air pubs. It was a typical Saturday night in Kuta, the most popular tourist strip on the lush, tropical island of Bali, where three almost simultaneous bomb blasts killed many and brought holidays to a hellish end.

Tourists were sent running for cover from what the US called an “act of terror”. Many headed for the beach where they spent the next few hours as the flames lit up the streets just yards away. Two bombs exploded in Kuta, a third nearby at Sanur, near a US honorary consulate. The blast that did the most damage was a car bomb in front of the popular Sari nightclub.

“I saw limbs lying on the ground,” said Richard Poore, a 37-year-old visitor from New Zealand who works as a television presentation director and had tried to get into the Sari 20 minutes before the blast. But it was too full. He said there were hundreds of revellers inside. “I got to the stage where I couldn’t film any more because it made me feel physically ill. I’ve never seen anything like it in 12 years of reporting.

“There was corrugated iron flying everywhere. Our hotel is 700 metres away and we have lost windows, a couple of the rooms on the top floors, the ceilings have caved in. It’s shocking. There are bodies everywhere and cars on fire.” He said the area had been cordoned off by the army.

While a number of regions in Indonesia, and the capital Jakarta, have been hit by violence in recent years, majority-Hindu Bali had long been considered a safe haven and spared from any unrest.

A local photographer said the main blast had wrecked up to 15 cars and been heard many kilometres away. Almost unrecognisable vehicle wreckage littered the streets.

“The Sari club is gone. You can smell the bodies of those who died,” he said.

Simon Quayle, coach of the Kingsley Football Club, an amateur team in suburban Perth, said eight players were missing after the team members had gone to the Sari.

“We have no idea where they are or what position they are in,” he told ABC television. “I am so grateful that me and the other 12 blokes got away with our lives. It was absolute chaos in there.”

Melbourne tourist Martin Lyons said he had been walking toward the nightclub when the bombs went off.

“We were walking out of our hotel to go down to the area where the bomb exploded and basically we were just confronted with masses of people running towards us up the street, it was just horrific,” Lyons told the Nine Network Sunday programme.

“It’s nothing quite like anything I’ve ever seen — there was more blood, the smell of burnt skin and the pain that they were in, you can’t really put that into words.”

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