Dozens of people were injured and scores of buildings damaged in a powerful earthquake that struck on Thursday.
The 6.0-magnitude quake rocked the island for several minutes, damaging ancient Hindu temples and sending concrete debris crashing down onto cars and pavements as walls and roofs collapsed.
Kuta’s main thoroughfare of Sunset Road, lined with restaurants, malls and supermarkets, was hard hit with cracks forming on the facade of several buildings.
“Hundreds of people ran onto the streets. It was chaos. So many people tried to drive off that the traffic came to a standstill,” said Reno Permana, who raced from his third-floor office when the quake struck.
“Part of the wall on the Carrefour supermarket near my building came down, and tiles from the roof fell and smashed into the parking lot. A lot of the buildings are badly damaged, with windows smashed in.”
Many of the 43 injured were children from three damaged schools. At one hospital, more than a dozen students – their uniforms torn and blood-stained – were crying and clutching their bleeding heads.
“We panicked and ran out of our classroom, but something fell on us when we were running outside,” said high school student Valentina.
The quake, which was also felt in the neighbouring islands Lombok and Java, was followed by a 4.6-magnitude aftershock, Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
Stephanie Fleming, a Briton who works for a tourism company in the Seminyak area close to Kuta, said her office shook violently for around a minute.
“It looked like a wall in our office was about to fall down, but all the structures outside seem more or less intact,” she said.
Part of the roof of the Puja Mandala temple near the coastal resort of Nusa Dua was damaged and fell onto the street, and another temple was damaged in a small landslide near Bali’s capital of Denpasar.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where the meeting of continental plates causes high seismic activity, and is frequently hit by earthquakes.
In October 2010 a powerful earthquake triggered a huge tsunami off the coast of Sumatra, northwest of Bali, that killed at least 300 people.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the epicentre of Thursday’s quake was located in the ocean south of the holiday island, but the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue any tsunami warning.
Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar, where most of the injured were taken, said dozens of people were treated for minor head wounds and cuts.
“Two students are still under observation. They suffered head wounds when roof tiles crashed on them. The others received outpatient treatment for cuts and have gone home,” said doctor Ken Wirasandhi.
Bali Hotels and Restaurant Association spokesman Perry Markus said tourists were checking out of Kuta hotels and seeking accommodation in areas that had not been affected.
“Especially from taller hotels. Tourists are looking for safe places to stay on other parts of the island,” Markus said.
The US seismologists said the 6.0-magnitude quake’s epicentre was 61.3 kilometres deep, some 130 kilometres south-southwest of Denpasar.