July 17, 2009 / 12:53 PM / 11 years ago

Hotel guests, some in bath robes, stumble to safety

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Hotel guests, some dressed in white hotel bath robes, scrambled through the twisted furniture and broken glass and out into the smoke and tropical early morning heat, trying to make sense of what had just happened.

Ritz-Carlton hotel guests leave after bombs exploded in the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta July 17, 2009. REUTERS/Supri

A bomb attack at the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta’s main business district at 7.47 a.m. and a few minutes later at the nearby Ritz-Carlton killed eight people and wounded more than 60 in the worst such attack to hit Indonesia since 2005.

“It was very loud, it was like thunder, it was rather continuous, and then followed by the second explosion,” said Vidi Tanza, who helped get the injured into taxis and patrol cars to get them to hospital. “We heard it from our office. There was not much panic. Then they realised the explosion was a bomb, so they scrambled outside.”

The bombs are believed to have been detonated inside the hotel restaurants, both of which are normally busy with diplomats and businessmen sitting down to power breakfasts.

Among the dozens of injured were Indonesians and foreign nationals from the United States, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Norway, South Korea, India and Japan.

“All the glass windows behind me were shattered,” said Yanuar, an employee at the Marriott who was standing in front of the lobby when the bomb went off.

“As far as I know, everybody who enters the hotel undergoes two checks so I thought it was safe.”

SMELL OF FIRECRACKERS

Alex Asmasoebrata was jogging near the hotels at the time of the blasts, widely believed to be the work of the radical Islamic group, Jemaah Islamiah.

“There was a smell like firecrackers, and then five minutes after that, there was an explosion at the Ritz-Carlton,” he said, adding that he saw one person whose leg had been severed and two suffering from burns. All three were foreigners.

Australian Scott Merrillees, head of the natural resources group at PT ANZ Panin Bank, a unit of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, was attending the CastleAsia Group working breakfast at the time.

“I heard a harsh sound,” he told reporters in hospital where he was being treated for a damaged eardrum and leg injury.

“But I’m a lucky person and I pray for those who are suffering and for those who have passed away.”

Two employees of PT Freeport Indonesia, a unit of U.S. mining giant Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., and executives from foreign companies including Husky Energy Inc of Canada were among the injured, police said.

Police believe the bombers may have checked into the Marriott on Wednesday. They found an unexploded homemade bomb in a laptop case in a room on the 18th floor.

They are also studying closed-circuit television footage from the Ritz-Carlton of a man wearing a baseball cap and pulling a small wheelie suitcase behind him as he entered the hotel lobby just minutes before the bomb there went off.

Additional reporting by Andreas Ismar, Sonya Angraini, Tyagita Silka, Aloysius Bhui, Retno Palupi, Dicky Kristanto in Jakarta

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