When Wollongong physiotherapist Linda Hogg was asked to help identify victims of the Bali bombing in the morgue the day after the terror attack, she wasn’t prepared for what she faced.
‘‘I was horrified, I thought there would be half a dozen bodies, but there were so, so many,’’ she said.
‘‘It was like a scene from Pompeii because they were kneeling and not in positions you’d expect.
‘‘There were boys from football teams whom you could only identify by the pieces of their jerseys still attached. There were girls with piercing blue eyes and pale blonde hair. They were so young.
‘‘You had to identify them quickly because they would decompose so quickly in the heat of Bali – there were no ice packs.’’
Linda and her husband John, then Wollongong Hospital’s director of surgery, were in the ‘‘wrong place at the right time’’ when they landed in Bali on the afternoon of the bombings.
They had planned to visit their favourite haunt the Sari Club – the scene of the attack – but chose not to as Mrs Hogg’s mother had accompanied them on the trip.
‘‘I was born in Indonesia and so have an affinity with Indonesia and with Bali, and was visiting in 2002 for a holiday as well as to help out a charity which looked after children with cerebral palsy,’’ she said.
‘‘We’d always make the Sari Club our first stop on visits to Bali as it was a very Australian, fun place to go, where you’d always bump into lots of people you knew.
‘‘We decided not to go that night because my mother was with us, so we had a quiet dinner with her and went to bed early.’’
It was to be the only peace they would know for many days – and the memories haunt them.
The morning after the bombing they were woken by a frantic call from their daughter, seeking assurance that they were okay.
‘‘We immediately went to Sanglah hospital to see what we could do, and it was amazing that they allowed us to roll up at the hospital and roll up our sleeves and start helping,’’ Mrs Hogg said.
‘‘There were no nurses there to bring coffee, tea or water to the patients and in the tropics you can quickly become dehydrated and die – and these patients were badly burnt.
‘‘I set up volunteers to give patients water and see that their needs were being met. I set up names at the end of the beds and databases, so that people could find their family members and friends.’’
Dr Hogg was one of the first western doctors to offer assistance and he spent his time in the burns unit – dressing wounds, putting patients on drips, organising catheters and treating burns.
‘‘The stoicism and the bravery of the injured people stands out in my mind,’’ he said.
‘‘What also struck me was that people who you wouldn’t have expected to show courage and devotion were doing exactly that – the volunteers were doing wonderful things.
‘‘What a horrible crime had been committed, but it brought out so much that was impressive about people.’’
Helping get injured people on planes home was also a logistical nightmare.
‘‘Tom Singer [aged 17] was one of the first patients I saw – I rang his aunt and she begged me to get him on the first plane,’’ Mrs Hogg said.
‘‘He died a few weeks later but it gave me some solace to know that we’d been able to help out by getting him on that plane, back to his loved ones.’’
The Hoggs, who run IOH (Injury and Occupational Health) in Wollongong and have been awarded OAMs for their assistance to victims of the attack, had planned to be in Bali for the 10th anniversary.
However, Mrs Hogg said they had had to cancel for family reasons, although their daughter and her family were there.
‘‘It’s a very emotional time for us every year – it didn’t happen to us, we weren’t victims but it’s there, it’s part of our lives,’’ Mrs Hogg said.
‘‘It’s very hard for us that we are not able to go and be with our friends during this time.
‘‘Let’s hope that nothing goes astray - it pains me to hear that horrible people may be planning other attacks. There are so few horrible people over there that terrorise so many good people.’’
Dr Hogg said he hoped people took time to reflect on the bravery shown by victims, the goodness shown by those who assisted - and not the evil demonstrated by the perpetrators.
‘‘I think we are very mindful of the survivors who are still carrying injuries and whose lives have been changed forever,’’ he said.
‘‘And also the families who lost people over there – our thoughts are very much with them and we hope the anniversary ceremony will bring them some comfort.’’