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Australia Declares National Day of Mourning in Wake of Bali Bombings - 2002-10-14

Australia declared next Sunday a national day of mourning for those killed or wounded by the deadly bomb blast in the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Dozens of victims have been evacuated to Australia's northern-most capital, Darwin.

About 60 seriously injured victims of the bomb blasts have been moved from overworked hospitals in Bali and flown to Darwin on Australian air force planes.

One of the victims died in transit and another died shortly after arriving at Royal Darwin Hospital. More than 180 people died in the blast Saturday night which destroyed a popular tourist night club in Bali. Most of the dead are foreign tourists, many of them Australians. Hundreds of people were wounded.

Many of the evacuees in Darwin are in critical condition. The worst have third-degree burns over most of their bodies or serious shrapnel wounds.

Most of the more stable victims will be airlifted to bigger hospitals Monday night, where they can get specialist treatment and be closer to their families.

The medical superintendent at Royal Darwin Hospital, Len Notaras, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that even the most desperately wounded are far better off flying to Darwin than staying in Bali.

"The majority of the Bali facilities are not air conditioned, they certainly don't have the number of beds that we have, the comfort we have and in some cases, I believe, the hospitals have been overwhelmed, not only by international visitors but by locals as well who've been injured in this horrific incident," he said.

The Australian government suspects Islamic extremist groups linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network are behind the bombing.

Australian Muslim leaders condemned the Bali attack, and political leaders urged the community to not make Muslims scapegoats.

Australia's foreign minister, justice minister and the heads of the national police and security intelligence organizations are flying to Bali to inspect the bomb site. They will then travel to Jakarta for talks with the Indonesian government.

In Parliament, Prime Minister John Howard declared a national day of mourning for next Sunday to pay tribute to the dead and injured.

"The word terrorism is too antiseptic an expression to describe what happened, it's too technical, it's too formal, what happened was barbaric, brutal mass murder without justification," he said.

As a sign of respect for the victims, Parliament adjourned for the rest of the day.