Expats caught in Indonesian earthquake tell their story

Published:  9 Aug at 6 PM
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Two Western expats working in Abu Dhabi were caught up in the Indonesian earthquake whilst on holiday in the region.

Leona Reynolds and Patricia Mulraney had decided on Bali as the perfect place for a break from work in Abu Dhabi. The pair were on a speedboat heading for nearby Gili Trawangan Island when a massive wave hit the boat, causing it to almost capsize. Believing the wave was the result of a storm, they dived into the sea as instructed by the boat’s owner and swam to the nearest shore. Other passengers were screaming and shouting, with no-one knowing exactly what was taking place. Once on dry land, they were told by another expat there’d been a huge earthquake, and advising them to board one of the small rescue boats and get back to the mainland as fast as possible.

Rumours were already circulating about a second earthquake due to hit the island the same evening, causing panic and chaos amongst holidaymakers and locals alike. Mulraney described the scene where at least 20 people were trying to board a tiny rescue boat, with locals throwing others into water as they tried to get on, One man seated in a wheelchair and with a head wound was pushed off into the water, and other locals were attempting to charge tourists for getting them back to the mainland.

Another already-docked boat sank almost immediately due to the weight of dozens of people, with one woman trampled on by others attempting to get to safety. After seven hours, the expat pair managed to get onto a boat and were evacuated to a larger ship and on to the airport. Mulraney told reporters police were wandering a round the beach completely ignoring her and her friend, and were seemly unaware of the chaos at the waterside. One man at a local hotel, she added, cooked food for every person on the island. The pair didn’t wait around to see if the predicted second earthquake actually happened, but took an early flight back to Abu Dhabi, saying all they wanted was to get out.
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