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Backstory: Indonesia correspondent and new father David Lipson on covering the Surabaya suicide bombings

Backstory: Indonesia correspondent and new father David Lipson on covering the Surabaya suicide bombings

ABC Backstory Backstory: Indonesia correspondent and new father David Lipson on covering the Surabaya suicide bom…

Backstory: Indonesia correspondent and new father David Lipson on covering the Surabaya suicide bombings

ABC Backstory Backstory: Indonesia correspondent and new father David Lipson on covering the Surabaya suicide bombings
Lipson standing in front of building with yellow police tape across it.
Indonesia correspondent David Lipson on the scene of a suicide bombing in Surabaya.
Lipson standing in front of building with yellow police tape across it.

Indonesia correspondent David Lipson on the scene of a suicide bombing in Surabaya.

The ABC's new Indonesia correspondent David Lips on had been in the country just 36 hours and wasn't even due to start work for another day when he was deployed to cover a series of suicide bombings in Surabaya.

The bombers had sacrificed their own children in the blasts and it was a distressing first assignment for Lipson, who'd only weeks earlier become a father.

 Selfie of Lipson holding baby in baby carrier on chest.
David Lipson with his baby son leaving Australia to take up a position as Indonesia correspondent in Jakarta.
 Selfie of Lipson holding baby in baby carrier on chest.

David Lipson with his baby son leaving Australia to take up a position as Indonesia correspondent in Jakarta.

Th e biggest story of my life was still unfolding nine weeks ago today.

The birth of our first child.

Our baby boy was delivered after a marathon 58 hours in hospital.

Needless to say, it was a rough ride.

Two days later and finally home in our Canberra apartment, I recorded my thoughts and feelings via selfie video into my phone.

A good friend told me it'd be worthwhile.

Dark eyed, unshaven, and dishevelled, I stare zombie like into the screen and slur my way through a video diary of sorts.

"We've got to care for this baby! I don't know how people do it, let alone if you're a single mum or in a country that doesn't have the sort of care that we have," I say into the phone.

"But as a sign of just how tired we were, we drove home from the hospital, I put Heidi to bed, the bub to bed and then I just went to bed as well.

"Next thing I hear this woman's voice in the house … [she ] was delivering flowers.

"We'd just left both front doors wide open, didn't hear any doorbell or anything."

Those flowers were sent by my soon-to-be colleague in Jakarta â€" Adam Harvey.

The card read: "Congratulations â€" it's never too early to start the baby on Bahasa lessons."

In the seven weeks that followed, even my plans to brush up on my Indonesian fell by the wayside.

It was the busiest, most challenging and sleep deprived period of my life, as we cleaned out our home of eight years, sold our less-prized possessions, packed up to move overseas, embarked on a small Johnny Farnham-esque farewell tour, while simultaneously learning how to raise a human being.

Overseas reporters give their interpretation and analysis of the week's major events.

When we finally emerged from the airport into the soupy Jakar ta night air, there was a sense of relief to compliment the trepidation.

Finally, the hard work was done.

Or so we thought.

Thirty-six hours later, as we were preparing the pram for our first real outing â€" a car-free day in Central Jakarta â€" I got a phone call from Adam, away on assignment covering the election in Malaysia.

Terrorists had attacked three churches in the city of Surabaya and the news desk needed me to go â€" now.

I threw some things into a bag and gave my wife a crash course in locking the security gate, using the television and strapping on the baby carrier without help.

I stepped outside the gate and waved goodbye.

A lot of praise gets heaped on journalists going into dangerous spots, but spare a thought for the other half.

That's courage.

Lipson, Wu and Guilianno with trolley loaded    with gear outside hotel.
Journalist David Lipson and producer/camera operators Ari Wu and Archicco Guilianno scrambled to cover the bombings.
Lipson, Wu and Guilianno with trolley loaded with gear outside hotel.

Journalist David Lipson and producer/camera operators Ari Wu and Archicco Guilianno scrambled to cover the bombings.

Meanwhile, I rushed to the airport with two of our producer/cameramen, Ari Wu and Archicco Guilianno, bound for Surabaya.

We landed, met our driver and made a beeline for one of the bombed-out churches.

By then, it was clear, the bombers were all from the one family.

Video Player failed to load. 11 killed in bomb attacks on churches in Indonesia
11 killed in bomb attacks on churches in Indonesia

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11 killed in bomb attacks on churches in Indonesia

Preparing my stories for TV, radio and online took me into the early hours of the morning.

I'm used to filing from the Press Gallery in Canberra but the technology used by the ABC on the road almost got the better of me.

I fell into bed and managed four-and-a-half hours of sleep.

David Lipson Ari Wu and Archicco Guilianno at work on laptops in hotel room in Surabaya.
The ABC Indonesia team at work filing on the Surabaya bombings.
David Lipson Ari Wu and Archicco Guilianno at work on laptops in hotel room in Surabaya.

The ABC Indonesia team at work filing on the Surabaya bombings.

By breakfast time, two more bombs had gone off, both triggered by families with children.

Surabaya was a city under attack.

We headed for the police headquarters.

There were credible reports the entrance had been bombed by a family on motorbikes.

But amid the credible, a steady stream of other reported attacks.

A defused bomb at the airport.

A blast at a Macdonald's restaurant.

A police shoot-out.

Fake news, although we didn't know it at the time, was spreading like wildfire on social media.

Then the boss rang from Sydney.

Cameraman looking in viewfinder and pr   oducer looking at diffuser while standing on hotel balcony.
Indonesia bureau producer/camera operators Ari Wu and Archicco Guilianno preparing for a live cross from the safety of a hotel balcony.
Cameraman looking in viewfinder and producer looking at diffuser while standing on hotel balcony.

Indonesia bureau producer/camera operators Ari Wu and Archicco Guilianno preparing for a live cross from the safety of a hotel balcony.

As we headed for the relative safety of our hotel, my phone lit up again.

From my wife â€" it's a photo of our baby boy.

The next day, we were back at the Pentecostal church where the car bomb went off.

It was still closed off by police tape.

We weren't allowed to film inside but the pastor offered to show us through so we could get a sense of what happ ened.

Along the way, the pastor pointed out small chunks of charred human flesh on the ground.

There was no electricity and a bad smell. Upturned chairs and broken glass littered the space.

The sense of panic was palpable.

I questioned my decision to come inside.

Lipson and crew filming woman inside funeral house with white and pink curtains, flowers and candles.
Surabaya residents tell of their grief in the wake of the bombings.
Lipson and crew filming woman inside funeral house with white and pink curtains, flowers and candles.

Surabaya residents tell of their grief in the wake of the bombings.

By the next day, Surabaya is burying its dead. < /p>

We attended the funeral of Martha Djumani. She became engaged to be married the day before she was killed.

Next door, two little boys Vincentius and Nathanael were laid to rest.

Their mother, still in a wheelchair and hooked up to an IV drip, was there to say a final goodbye.

Video Player failed to load. Grieving families bury victims of Surabaya attacks
Grieving families bury victims of Surabaya attacks

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Grieving families bury victims of Surabaya attacks

It was at this moment, the gravity of this story finally hit me.

I'd been so busy and focused on the task at hand that I hadn't had time to truly comprehend what happen ed.

The innocents. The children.

It's all too much.

I had to walk away to the back of Surabaya funeral centre carpark to compose myself.

My first week in Indonesia is one I'll never forget.

In that one week I learned a lot about this new job, my dream job, as a foreign correspondent.

But in the past nine weeks I feel I've experienced much more about life and death and the whole bloody human condition than I have in all the years until now.

And yet it's a mystery, mostly.

Back in Jakarta, I hug my little family like never before.

Listen to Correspondents Report to hear David Lipson and the ABC's team of foreign correspondents share stories from the road.

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Source: Google News | Berita 24 English

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