The Straits Times
Published on Oct 11, 2012

I still get flashbacks of people on fire, says Bali rescuer


KUTA, Bali : Civil servant Bambang Priyanto, then 43 and responsible for traffic in the Kuta area, was reading in bed when he heard a powerful explosion.

He leapt up, fearing a plane had crashed at the airport nearby. When he stepped out and saw a reddish plume of smoke in the sky, he got on his motorbike, torch and first-aid kit in hand, and sped to a scene he will never forget.

"People were bleeding, screaming 'it's hot, very hot', and some had skin peeling," he recalls of the aftermath of the Bali bombings on Oct 12, 2002. He shudders as he describes the dying he held: a woman whose chest was spliced open, a man who was bleeding profusely where his leg was and foaming at the mouth.

Over the next 11 hours, he mobilised a group of 20 residents from his neighbourhood to ferry the wounded to hospital. The act of bravery made him a local hero. He joined the Red Cross, and has since been helping at disasters around the country - from the 2004 Aceh tsunami to various earthquakes.