Millions of people across Indonesia and the Pacific have experienced a total solar eclipse, with parts of the region falling into complete darkness. The eclipse began at 06:19 local time (23:19 GMT Tuesday) as the Moon started to pass directly in front of the Sun. As the eclipse reached totality, the Moon blocked all direct sunlight, turning day into night.

In Indonesia’s Belitung province, a crowd gathered on a beach and witnesses spoke of a “magical” experience. The eclipse was total in much of Indonesia and the Central Pacific, while parts of Australia and Asia experienced a partial one. Astronomers reiterated advice not to look directly at the Sun with the naked eye, or through a telescope. Experts recommended using either a professional solar filter in front of a telescope or camera, or special eclipse-viewing glasses.

Belitung, Indonesia, was one of the best places to view the total solar eclipse. From before dawn, about 200 people gathered at Olivier beach to watch. About 30 foreigners were in the crowd, travelling from Australia and Europe to see it. One of them was Wilma from Holland, who is a solar eclipse hunter and has seen the solar eclipse five times. She said that when the eclipse started an overwhelming feeling of peace came over her and she heard no sounds. It was a magical experience she said.

When the solar eclipse started the crowd cheered and then went silent in awe. People were taking photos while others just watched in amazement. Then when it finished people clapped quietly. It was an incredible experience, our correspondent said. Across the island other people prayed in mosques, churches and temples.