It was 7.30pm local time on Saturday night, and two restaurants near the Four Seasons, rated by Condé Nast Traveller as "the best hotel in the world", were packed with foreign and Indonesian families. Then one, maybe two, booming blasts transformed the brochure-perfect picture into what Komang, a receptionist at the Graha Asih Hospital, close to Jimbaran Bay, described as "a horrible scene - some people have had their heads blown off".
At popular seafront warungs, diners eating fresh barbecued seafood at tables placed on the sand were sent scrambling in panic as the blasts tore through the bayside cafés. One witness, I Wayan Kresna, said he saw the first bomb at a seafood restaurant on Jimbaran beach. He counted at least two dead and said many others had been brought to a hospital.
"I helped lift up the bodies," he told the privately run El Shinta radio. "There was blood everywhere." And not just blood. People had been deconstructed before his eyes. He went on: "One head that I found was Japanese and one other that I found had a foot like a white's, like the foot of woman." The grotesque banality of terrorism's effects made plain in a few words.
Dan Delhomme, from Stevenage, emailed the BBC website: "We were 40-50 meters away from the two explosions in PJ's restaurant in the Four Seasons. We heard one loud explosion... It was followed by another about 25 seconds later. The first explosion seemed weak and for a split second we wondered if it was a large firework. The second was slightly louder and we could see the smoke drift across the beach."
Just 19 miles away, Kuta Square, which has been rebuilt since the 2002 bombings, was hit almost simultaneously. Kuta is the main beach, nightlife and shopping centre for southern Bali. Tourists come from all over the island to its Matahari department store, specialist shops and cafés such as Raja's noodle, steak and snack house, just three blocks from where the 2002 bombers struck. The owners and their customers must, if they had given the matter thought, assumed that such proximity to one of the most notorious of all terrorist outrages would ensure their safety. But last night, the Raja, and many of its diners, were suddenly no more. A bomb had seen to that.
In a building near to a restaurant that had been destroyed by the blast was a British tourist, Daniel Martin. First, he said, there was a "thunderous boom" that blew all the shop's windows out. "It was just chaos," he told the BBC. He reported seeing people lying in the streets with serious injuries, with everyone pitching in to help. Yosi, 24, a shop owner near the Kuta blast, said: "People were running for their lives. Foreign tourists were wounded. I am so scared."
The indoor blast at the modest Raja noodle stand, located beside a tourist information kiosk, shattered plate-glass windows in surrounding shops. Tourists and staff fled screaming to the roof, yet there was a terrible sense of déjà vu among the shocked and sunburnt crowd. Many of the injured were transported to Sanglah Hospital, in the provincial capital Denpasar, where the corridors were lined with burnt bodies three years ago. The Australian-funded burns unit was operating at full capacity. The panic caused the mobile phone network to collapse, but emergency services, which were so overwhelmed three years ago, were coping with the injured.
Adding to the chaos was a breakdown in virtually all communications. Then, about midnight, The Independent on Sunday made contact with a woman called Indrawati at the Four Seasons. She said: "At the moment we are counting guests and checking them against records. There are a few guests still to be accounted for." In this year of bombings, yet another inventory of the missing and survived is compiled.Reuse content