Byron families? close shave in Bali blasts

By MEGAN KINNINMENT star@byronnews.com.au

A GIGANTIC 'boom' followed by smoke, screaming and chaos is how two Byron Bay families yesterday described their close encounter with Saturday's Bali bomb attacks.

The Kerrigan and Ericson families were independently holidaying in Bali when the attacks hit tourists at the popular beachside collection of restaurants at Jimbaran Bay.

Bruce Ericson and his daughter Aurora, 14, of Suffolk Park, left the Menega Cafe at Jimbaran Bay 20 minutes before a bomb ripped it apart.

The Kerrigans were enjoying a meal 800 metres away when the two bombs exploded, ng 22 people and injuring more than 100.

Two other Byron families holidaying in Bali ? the Butlers and the Dockings ? are reported to be safe following the blasts.

At Suffolk Park, Bruce Ericson's wife Paula told The Northern Star of the relief she felt when Aurora contacted her in the early hours of Sunday to say they were fine.

"I told them: 'It's time to come home'," Mrs Ericson said. "They sounded OK, but you just don't know what could happen."

Her husband and daughter had bought a meal at the Menega Cafe 20 minutes before the blasts and heard the massive explosions as they arrived in the foyer of the Inna Hotel 200 metres away.

"They described it as very loud and said there were people running everywhere. A lot of confusion, chaos," Mrs Ericson said.

Yesterday, Mr Ericson and his daughter were trying to get out on any flight available.

Lisa and Ross Kerrigan and their daughters, Sofia, 11, and Savannah, 8, also had a narrow escape. They had just finished their meal at Jimbaran when they heard the bomb go off 800 metres down the beach.

"We heard this enormous boom, unlike any sound I've ever heard before," Lisa Kerrigan, owner of Citrus Deli in Byron Bay, told The Northern Star from the Legian Hotel in Seminyak yesterday. "Everyone wondered what had happened, whether it was a power generator that had exploded.

"Then there was another explosion. Then everyone started coming out of the kitchens, looking worried and we could see smoke further down the beach.

"It wasn't until we were coming back to the hotel that we saw huge groups of people outside the hospital, and heard the sirens and ambulances. The Balinese people are devastated. They've only just got back on their feet (after the 2002 bombings). They can't talk without tears coming to their eyes."

Mrs Kerrigan said she and her family had stayed in their hotel since the bombings.

"It's the closest I've ever been to a bomb, and it's the closest I ever want to come to one," she said.

"The kids are a bit freaked out. It's all a bit surreal. Security around the hotel has doubled, with every car being checked for bombs."

Despite the bombings, the Kerrigans were not cutting short their stay in Bali.

"We are due to fly back early Wednesday morning anyway," she said.



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