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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Australia relives Bali nightmare
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Almost exactly three years after the first Bali bombings, Australia has again been confronted by mass murder on the Indonesian holiday island.

Bali memorial at Coogee beach in Sydney
Australia is still coming to terms with the first Bali attack, in 2002

Much of the dread and revulsion sparked by the October 2002 slaughter returned as news of last week end's attacks spread.

"I thought 'my God, not again'," said Dr Dianne Stephens, the director of the intensive care unit at the Royal Darwin Hospital, where several survivors of the latest blasts were taken.

She also helped treat critically ill patients who were airlifted to Darwin from Bali in 2002.

"I had that sinking feeling you get when you know what's coming, what the injuries are going to look like and the trauma people are having to go through," she said.

Dr Stephens, a Royal Australian Air force reservist, flew to Bali on the first RAAF Hercules sent to collect seriously ill survivors.

"This was a little different to the first bombings, where there was a lot of fire and so there was a huge amount of burns," she said. "This time it's all blast wounds and shrapnel injuries, which unfortunately I saw quite a lot of in a three-month deployment in Iraq."

Peter Hughes
"They would be feeling a sense of numbness going through their system, along with shock and panic
Peter Hughes, 2002 survivor

Doctors have removed enough shrapnel during surgery on survivors in Darwin to fill dozens of large shopping bags.

It is a chilling repeat of what happened in Bali three years ago.

Peter Hughes, who was in a coma for two and a half weeks and in hospital for three months after the 2002 blasts, said he felt "a bit empty" when news came through of the latest explosions.

"They [the survivors] would be feeling a sense of numbness going through their system, along with shock and panic," he said.

Mr Hughes' hard-hitting book 'Back from the Dead' details his thoughts and experiences after October 2002. He had suffered 54% burns.

"Sometimes I'm as normal as anyone who goes through trauma," he said, "but sometimes mentally I struggle with it. But I'm very lucky to be alive."

Mother's anguish

The mother of another 2002 survivor has also been warning those affected by the latest bombing what to expect.

"I just felt so deeply sorry for them because I know that the anguish would be absolutely ghastly," said Dawn Fox, whose daughter Therese suffered burns to 85% of her body. "They will be going through hell," she told ABC television.

Therese Fox spent a year in hospital and was one of the last Australian victims of the 2002 attacks to be allowed home.

Dawn Fox has told of her daughter's ordeal at that time.

"You hear [her] having her dressings done and they take four hours, six hours, and you hear the screaming and then you see your daughter and she says: 'Just let me die'", she said.

Australia and Indonesia have learned a great deal since the first attacks in Bali - from emergency preparedness to the value of intelligence sharing.

It has still not been enough to protect the innocent.

"I look at the sheer madness of it and feel frustration that there is nothing we can do to stop this from happening all over the world," said Dr Stephens.

Bomb survivor Peter Hughes believes there is a danger that the extremists could be getting the upper hand.

"We need to push back on terrorism very quickly," he said. "Otherwise it is going to overcome us."

"These people aren't going to stop. If it's Bali now, it will be Australia next," he said.


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