Friday, July 17, 2009

Jakarta Bombings: on the spot report

Bob McKerrow, head of the International Red Cross operation in Indonesia, and a good friend of Head Down Eyes Open, shares with us his experinces from Jakarta in the wake of the hotel bombings there this morning.

This morning I got a phone call at 07.43 a.m. from my colleague Javier, saying, " I heard an explosion and just looked out the window and I can see smoke pouring out of the Marriot Hotel.

Within minutes the Indonesian Red Cross Society had deployed seven ambulances and 42 disaster response volunteers and paramedics. Those volunteers have been providing first aid and other humanitarian support at both locations, as well as at hospitals where the injured have been transported.

"Our medical team evacuated five injured people from JW Marriot Hotel to the hospital," says Rukman, a senior disaster management officer with the Indonesian Red Cross Society, which is known domestically at Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI).

Two teams to reunite families separated as a result of the bombing are working with hospitals to identify those who were lost or injured so that families can be informed. PMI also responded to requests from hospitals for Rhesus A-Negative blood for survivors, and is coordinating with the expatriate emergency blood donor committee to be ready in mobilizing volunteers with Rhesus A-Negative blood type if required.

As soon as I arrived at work this morning I switched on the TV and watched the drama unfolding while dealing with international media from Australia, Bangkok, London and Oslo.

I met the Chairman and Secretary General PMI and offered help.

Later in the day our Disaster Management Coordinator Wayne Ulrich de-briefed the brave PMI emergency teams when they returned to HQ. It is no easy task attending to the injured and removing dead bodies after a bomb blast. They desribed gruesome scenes to Wayne. Adding to the pressure and uncertainty is always the chance of another blast. I really admire these gutsy volunteers.

I was saddened to read that one of the foreigners killed was a fellow New Zealander, Tim Mackay. He is one of nine people killed when bombs went off at the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotels in Jakarta. Mr Mackay, 62, had gone to the Marriott Hotel for a business meeting.

It was reported that thirteen other foreigners were among 50 injured in the blasts. The facade was ripped off the Ritz in the powerful blasts. A further unexploded bomb has since been found at the Marriott Hotel, Indonesian police said.

Bob's blog can be found here.


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