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Twitter users were apparently the first to report a pair of deadly bombings in Jakarta Friday morning, underlining the social media site's growing use as a breaking news source in competition with traditional media.
The twin bombings at the Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels killed at least nine people and wounded more than 50, The Christian Science Monitor reported this morning. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that eyewitness accounts of the blasts spread on the social media site before news outlets began to report on the events, and users quickly posted photos that were then picked up by news services. Employees of the Marriott hotel group also used the company's Twitter account to "extend their sympathies to the victims and update on the unfolding tragedy," reports the news service.
Twitter user Daniel Tumiwa was apparently the first to report the blasts. "2 boms go off inside Ritz Carlton and Marriott coffee shops! Not kidding. Am here," reads one of his tweets. Then: "Left location.Shocked. Lots of blood. Breakfast meetings at coffee shops while bombs went off."
Andre Siregar, on Twitter at dregar, was apparently staying at the Ritz-Carlton Friday and also posted quick updates on the bombing. "Something going in Mega Kuningan. Explosion? In Ritz CArlton and felt building shaking. Marriott hotel has some broken glasses," says his first Tweet on the incident. He then posted a dramatic photo of the bombed-out restaurant on the first floor of the Ritz-Carlton. "We were about 30 mins from having breakfast at the restaurant where the explosion was," he tweeted.
Though Twitter's "citizen reporters" beat the traditional media to the punch, newspapers and news services were quick to wade into the fray. The BBC offers several firsthand accounts of the aftermath of the attacks, and a Los Angeles Times blog offers tips on how to use Twitter to find breaking news on the bombings.
As some of the news outlets noted, the Jakarta bombings are simply the latest case of Twitter users breaking news. Traditional media outlets relied heavily on Twitter for news of the protests in Iran following the disputed presidential election, after the government cracked down on reporters. Cellphone photos, blogs, and Twitter were also important sources of information during the Mumbai terror attacks in November.