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Australian PM Warns Country to Expect Many Casualties from Indonesia Bombing - 2002-10-13


Australian Prime Minister John Howard has warned the country to expect many of the 182 victims killed in the Bali bombing to be Australian. The Australian Air Force has begun shuttling Hercules aircraft to Bali to bring the injured home.

It is not clear how many of the dead are Australian, but Australians make up a high percentage of tourists to Bali particularly Kuta Beach, the scene of the massive bomb attack late Saturday night.

Many Australians are unaccounted for, and hospital staff in Bali's capital, Denpasar, estimate almost half of the patients in Sanga Hospital are Australian.

One man from Melbourne, injured in the blast, managed to catch the first flight home to Darwin. Rick Elliott, who suffered cuts to his head and leg, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the night club was packed at the time of the blast. "All of a sudden just a loud explosion, and the roof, the ceiling collapsed in on me and it really went dark, and I just sort of, just a bit shocked and just sort of lifted the ceiling away from me and called out from under that and it was just dark and dusty," he said. "So I was a bit shocked, wasn't really sure what was happening."

The Australian and Indonesian governments say the blast was a terrorist attack, most likely against western interests.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Australia received no particular information leading up to the attack. He expressed the country's outrage. "The indiscriminate, brutal and despicable way in which lives have been taken away on this occasion by an act of barbarity will I know deeply shock all Australians," he said.

Two Australian Air Force Hercules planes have begun shuttling back and forth between Darwin and Bali to bring injured Australians home.

Hospitals around Australia, including in Darwin, are on high alert and stand ready to take the injured if needed. They're expected to operate throughout the night.