Wed, 06 Aug 2003

'My poor boy! he had three children'

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

"How could a human being have the heart to do such a terrible thing to us? What have we done wrong?" cried Tita, a victim of the JW Marriott bombing on Tuesday, at the Jakarta Hospital in Central Jakarta.

Tita, 21, who was an intern employee at the JW Marriot hotel, suffered burns to her arms and lower legs in the blast.

She was standing in front of the Sailendra restaurant, located a few meters from the hotel lobby door.

Tita said that first she heard a loud bang, continued by a series of "Tac! Tac! Tac!" sounds and a very piercing "Prang!"

In a matter of seconds she heard somebody yelling, "Get down!" She turned and saw a fireball coming her way from the lobby.

"At that very moment, I told myself that it was a bomb. Instead of lying down, I chose to run."

The fireball was faster.

The next thing she knew she was lying in an ambulance on her way to Jakarta Hospital.

The Trisakti College for Tourism student had just started her six-month internship at the hotel five days ago.

She was calm when The Jakarta Post met her four hours after the blast. However, she was worried about what had happened to her colleagues and the guests at the fully booked restaurant.

"It was lunch hour, all the tables were reserved ... many of the guests were expatriates," she said.

One of the foreigners was Patricia Pond, 54, a U.S. citizen who had been in Jakarta for two days to train employees from GE Indonesia, beginning on Tuesday.

Diena Juniarti, external communication specialist for GE, told the Post that Pond's condition was stabilizing, despite the burns she had suffered.

Australian Simon Leuning, who had just flown into Jakarta from Medan, North Sumatra, was blown across his seventh-floor hotel room.

Spoken to about an hour after the blast, a visibly shocked Leuning, still clutching a melted money belt a gravely burned taxi driver had asked him to keep safe, said he had helped evacuate the injured and dead from the hotel lobby and forecourt.

"All the victim's were taxi drivers, innocent Indonesian taxi drivers."

Leuning was later seen wandering about one kilometer from the blast sight arguing over the possession of the melted hunk of plastic with a police officer who considered it evidence.

The Perth-based Edith Cowan University employee, who did not speak Indonesian, was taken away in a police car yelling, "Why are you arresting bomb victims?"

At Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital (RSCM), Warsinah, in her 60s, bravely attempted to identify her nephew Harna, a 37- year-old Silver Bird taxi driver who was killed at the scene.

She cried upon seeing the corpse but was not sure if it was really Harna. When her husband checked the ID card found in the man's clothes, she let out a wailing cry.

"My poor boy! He had three kids ... Just kill them (the bombers)!! Kill them!!!" she shouted.

Many employees of the Blue Bird taxi company arrived at the morgue, mourning the loss of their colleagues.

In the MMC hospital in Kuningan, South Jakarta, Ony Priyono, 40, husband of Dwi Welasis, 30, and brother of Andini, 25, said that the two were standing 50 meters from the scene and were injured.

They were withdrawing money from an ATM at ITC Mega Kuningan.

"Both hands, feet and face of my wife were burned, while my sister broke her leg .... Meanwhile, my wife's driver did not get hurt because he was still in the car," Priyono told the Post.

"The driver took my wife and sister to MMC hospital right after the blast," he said.

A devastated Priyono said the hospital had asked for a Rp 15 million (US$1,765) deposit.

"After negotiating with the hospital, I only needed to deposit Rp 2 million," he said.

He was not aware of Minister of Health Achmad Suyudi's statement that the government would cover the victims' expenses.

Suyudi paid a visit to the victims at MMC hospital at around 4 p.m. He said the blast was a disaster and therefore the government would cover the cost of the victims' treatment from the state budget.