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Dead Cities

By Arif Zulkitli, Rommy Fibri, Jalil Hakim, Sunudyantoro in Bali, And Aril Koko in London

The search for body parts continues

FOUR DAYS AFTER THE BLAST. RESCUERS ARE still unearthing body parts. “Try and get that one up there.” says Haji Agus Bambang Priyanto, a Muslim leader in Kuta heading a rescue team. A young team member climbs a palm tree to retrieve part of an already-blackened human intestine.

The bombing of the Sari Club, a popular pub in Kuta. Bali, is the most dramatic tragedy to take place more than a year after September 11. By the end of the week, officials of Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar counted 184 dead bodies and another 328 injured. The numbers, however, are expected to increase. Hotels in the Kuta area have reported that more than 100 of their guests are still unaccounted for. There were several explosions that actually took place that night, one after another. The Kuta explosion was the most devastating. Even those who survived suffered multiple injuries.

For once, Kuta and the other areas in Bali are dead cities, except for the arrivals of officials from Jakarta and the numerous journalists covering Indonesia’s worst bomb tragedy. Before, Bali was known as the place where the day never ends.

“That evening there were at least 400 people at the Sari Club.” says Ni Putu Ayu Sila Prihana Dewi, a cashier at the club, who escaped the tragedy unscathed. The place was also a favorite of motorcycle taxi drivers, child beggars, and prostitutes who loitered nearby, ft is believed that most of the unidentified corpses with missing body parts belong to this group.

The Sari Club is now flat. Around it are ruins, burnt buildings, and broken glasses. About 100 meters away, several houses are without walls and roofs. Police report that 53 buildings were destroyed. 18 cars wrecked, and nine motorcycles burnt. “I just built this house six years ago, and now it’s ruined.” says Nyoman, a middle-aged lady who was busy helping her husband repair the damage.

At the lawn of the Sari Club, a corpse blackened by the fire was found stuck at the fence. Rescue teams were forced to use a rod to pry the body. In the process, however, the corpse lost part of a heel.

Witnesses also tell the story of a man’s body found at the front seat of a Haagen-Dazs van. The man was still holding the steering wheel, but his body was soot black and his head missing.

Today, bouquets of wreaths line a row of shops. Tourists hug each other, giving or seeking comfort. The air is filled with the aroma of incense mixed with the smell of burnt, rancid waste and the fading fragrance of flowers.

All around, there is a sense of anger, sadness, and pain, accompanied by the occasional tears of despair. Everybody is still in shock. Residents or outsiders gather at the edge of the yellow police line.

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in Bali—once a nirvana for tourists.

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