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Fed: "Grave concerns" for Australians caught in Jakarta blasts

Fri Jul 17 20:56:01 EST 2009

SYDNEY, July 17 AAP - The federal government was working on Friday night to confirm the identities of three Australians believed to have been killed in the Indonesian terrorist hotel blasts.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told a press conference he had grave concerns for one embassy official and two other Australians in Jakarta.

Perth businessman Nathan Verity is believed to be one of the Australians killed in the bombings, which Mr Rudd described as "appalling".

Jim Truscott, a personal friend, said Mr Verity had run a human resources and recruitment business out of Jakarta, but lived in Perth with his wife Vanessa and five-year-old son.

"He only lived in Jakarta for work. He would spend a couple of weeks in Jakarta and couple of weeks in Perth," Mr Truscott told Fairfax Radio.

"His home base was Perth."

Mr Truscott said Mr Verity's body had been found amid the rubble of one of the bomb blasts that struck the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta's upmarket Mega Kuningan business district about 8am local time (1100 AEST).

"We don't know at all exactly (how he died) other than his body's intact and he must have been killed by a blast," Mr Truscott said.

Austrade official Craig Senger is also believed to be among the dead.

The overall death toll in the Indonesian capital currently stands at at least eight, with 42 injured, 13 of whom are foreigners.

Mr Rudd confirmed the principle area of damage was the hotels' restaurants and warned the death and injury toll could rise further.

"I have grave concerns for three Australians and await further information and confirmation before making further information public," Mr Rudd told reporters in Sydney on Friday night.

"I believe that is the responsible thing to do.

"Because this is such a difficult time for many Australian families I don't believe that would be responsible until all proper processes have been gone through between Australian and Indonesian officials."

"Australian Federal Police are providing assistance to investigators in Jakarta," Mr Rudd added.

Australian hospitals have also been told to reserve space for victims if the need arises.

The prime minister said there was no further evidence available on Friday night as to who was responsible for the bombings.

He said Australian intelligence agencies had also offered no advice about the culprits.

"I do not propose to speculate further on who is responsible. It is not proper to do so in the absence of further direct advice and information.

"I've also received a communication from the president of Indonesia today welcoming Australia's message of sympathy and support as a result of these horrific bombings as well as a message fron the president expressing his appreciation of our offers of Australian government support.

"This is a very, very tough time for many Australian families tonight and many families in Indonesia.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to them tonight at this most trying of times."