DENPASAR, INDONESIA (TIP): An explosion on a speedboat in Bali left two foreigners dead and 18 other tourists injured on September 15, sparking dramatic scenes as rescuers rushed to haul stunned and bloodied holidaymakers off the vessel.
Dazed passengers, many covered in cuts and bruises, were taken to medical centres on the Indonesian holiday island after the blast, with TV footage showing them being carried on stretchers to ambulances and lying in hospital beds.
An Austrian woman was killed along with a second female foreigner, whose nationality was still being verified. Nationals from Briton, France, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Spain were also on the boat at the time of the blast.
It appeared to be an accident with the explosion occurring in the fuel tank. The bomb squad was initially deployed to the scene on an island that has suffered bloody Islamist militant attacks in the past, but authorities quickly ruled out an attack.
Indonesia has a poor maritime safety record and regularly suffers fatal boat accidents but serious incidents around Bali, which attracts millions of foreign visitors each year — are rare.
The speedboat, which was carrying some 30 foreign tourists and four crew, had just left Padang Bai port in eastern Bali on Thursday morning when the blast occurred.
“The explosion happened five minutes after the boat departed,” local police chief Sugeng Sudarso told AFP, adding the vessel had been about 200 metres (yards) from the port.
One woman died from head injuries soon after the blast while the Austrian woman died later in hospital, he said.
Sudarso said he believed a malfunctioning battery near the fuel tank may have caused the accident.