6.00pm - By GREG ANSLEY

It took just one minute to rip the heart out of Bali. It will take years to recover. Yesterday, as Hindu leaders prepared to spiritually cleanse the charred crater left by the October 12 bombing, forensic investigators announced they had packed the last of their equipment and were turning the centre of Kuta back to its owners.

Specialist teams from the Australian Federal Police, the American Federal Bureau of Investigation and Britain's Scotland Yard, working with the Indonesian Polri, had just three weeks to comb the rubble for clues.

But in that brief period they have identified three suspects and pieced together the appalling sequence of events that killed more than 180 people, including at least two New Zealanders and, as of yesterday, a confirmed 48 Australians.

Tragically, as many Australians again have yet to be identified in what will be an agonising wait for relatives.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said the remaining victims would have to be confirmed by lengthy DNA testing or fingerprinting.

It is now certain that the three men whose faces were recreated by Victorian police photofit experts from the descriptions of witnesses and released by the Indonesians this week, did not act alone.

Australian investigators have emphasised the sophistication of the operation, from its planning to the manufacture and placement of the bombs, and its final horrific execution.

The Australians have used 3D laser imaging to reconstruct the strip of Legian Rd in Kuta that ran past Paddys Bar and, diagonally opposite, the Sari Club. The technology has also been used to analyse the third bombing, near the US Consulate in Denpasar.

Graham Ashton, the federal agent in charge of the forensic examination, says the technology can not only determine the sequence and consequences of the blasts, but can also be used to take witnesses back to the clubs and walk them through their night.

Paddys Bar, with its bamboo-fringed front door and two levels, was the first to be hit.

About 100 people were in the nightspot late on Saturday night, drinking at the bar near the front of the club, dancing on the floor between the columns further towards the rear of the building, or sitting on the solid concrete benches along the back wall.

Between the concrete benches and the dance floor was a DJ's booth.

Some time around 11pm one of the terrorist cell walked into Paddys, crossed to a table near this booth, and left a bomb containing between 500g and 1kg of TNT on a chair or on the table.

Investigators know this because they have pinpointed the epicentre of the blast and determined that it exploded between 80cm and 120cm above the floor.

There is no evidence, Ashton says, that this was a suicide mission.

Investigators believe the terrorist planted the bomb shortly before the explosion, left the building and detonated it using a mobile phone.

At 11.05pm Paddys Bar was ripped apart.

The blast killed a number of people immediately, injured more and sent others screaming into Legian Rd.

The fireflash, typical of TNT, was large but not incendiary, starting only a few spot fires around the bar - but its force was sufficient to rip the concrete benches from the wall.

Outside, Legian Rd was packed with pedestrians and traffic, with cars lined along the dropoff and pickup area outside the Sari Club, probably Kuta's most popular nightspot and a magnet for foreign tourists and expatriates.

That night about 300 were partying there.

Some time earlier in the evening the terrorists had driven a white Mitsubishi L300 van to Legian Rd, a huge explosive packed behind the driver's seat.

They had locked the steering wheel and the doors, and walked away.

Ten to 15 seconds after Paddys Bar erupted, the Mitsubishi exploded.

"There was a tremendous release of energy," Ashton says, "a pressure wave followed by fragmentation followed by fire.

"It may be of some reassurance to relatives, if that is possible, to know that the people in the Sari Club who lost their lives died very, very quickly."

In the street the Mitsubishi van disintegrated into fragments slicing out from the vast crater opened by the bomb.

The car parked behind the van was hurled into the air, completing a somersault before landing on its wheels 30m away.

Concrete was stripped from the steel uprights of the building across the road.

Immediately behind the blast came the flames.

The Sari Club was an outdoor club, its bars distributed under thatched huts.

The fireball punched through the front, exploded across the yard, flashed into the thatched huts and around, up and out of the building.

It spread to other buildings, raced across the road and incinerated Paddys Bar.

The nature of the blast has led Australian and Indonesian experts to disagree on the type of explosive used in the van. The Indonesians said at a forensic briefing in Bali yesterday they had found traces of substances known as RDX and HMX around the crater, leading to their conclusion that the terrorists used C4 plastic explosive.

But the Australians believe this kind of bomb causes an explosion of a much higher velocity: the punch would have been sharper, more powerful, but without the fire or shrapnel effect.

Ashton says the Bali bombers knew what they were doing.

The conclusion of the international teams is that they were well-trained, of above average ability even among skilled and experienced bomb-makers, and designed their attack to inflict the greatest number of casualties.

Ashton says neither TNT nor C4 would have shredded concrete from steel uprights and fired it out as shrapnel.

It would have destroyed both steel and concrete with one punch.

Nor would either explosive have ignited the fireball that scoured the Sari Club, leaving most of its exterior walls upright.

The Australians' conclusion is more chilling.

They believe the bombers deliberately chose an explosive based on chlorate, acid salts used in the manufacture of such products as detergents, because the lower velocity of its explosion and its incendiary nature would kill or maim more victims.

About 400kg of chlorate was stolen on the main Indonesian island of Java in September, although there is no confirmation yet of its connection to Bali.

Ashton says investigators may never know for certain what explosive was used. In Britain, with long experience of IRA campaigns, the substances used in about one-third of bombs cannot be confirmed.

If it was a chlorate-based explosive, Ashton says the size of the flash would suggest a bomb of between 50kg and 150kg, with no evidence yet of the method used to detonate it - although remote control, possibly using mobile phones, appears likely.

At Denpasar, the third bomb exploded about 45 to 60 seconds after the Sari Club, with a blast sufficient to punch holes in the kerb and footpath, but without inflicting casualties.

Investigators believe this, like the Paddys bomb, was a TNT device of between 500g and 1kg, detonated by mobile phone.

Finding the bombers is now the priority.

Although attention has focused on the radical Indonesian group Jemaah Islamiyah - outlawed this week in both New Zealand and Australia - Keelty refuses to be drawn on speculation.

He makes a clear distinction between the hypotheses of intelligence agencies and the forensic and other evidence needed by police to take a suspect to court.

Keelty says that, as an example, intelligence agencies knew almost immediately that the destruction of a jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, was the work of Libyan terrorists.

The FBI took two years to confirm it.

But investigators now have images of three suspects, and on Thursday Indonesian Police Inspector-General Made Mangku Pastika said they had been given the name of one by a reliable informant.

The Australian linked one of the men to a suspected terrorist linkman between al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, known as Hambali but identified as Riduan Isamudidin, a Javanese wanted for a number of Southeast Asian bombings by authorities in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and the US.

Keelty declined to comment on the report.

Meanwhile, the homes of more Muslims have been raided in Australia by federal police and agents of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in a clampdown on suspected Jemaah Islamiyah cells and sympathisers.

Keelty said five illegal immigrants had been detained and were being questioned, and while further arrests depended on the evidence so far collected, the raids were not directly linked to the Bali bombings.

Canberra's determination to continue with the raids has triggered an angry protest from Indonesia and sparked outrage both in the large Muslim community and among civil libertarians.

Prime Minister John Howard has dismissed criticism of the raids and the force used during them - including sledgehammers and swat teams armed with machine guns - saying there were good reasons for the late-night and early-morning swoops.

"I find it amazing that people could seriously question the national need for this to happen."

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