Couple tell of moment fuel line sparked explosion on ferry in Bali

Ed and Donna Emery in hospital after a ferry they were on exploded
Ed and Donna Emery in hospital after a ferry they were on exploded
From left, Jacob Kennard, Gavin Moon, Ian Doyle and Sarah Talboys-Smith with Shanon Rees and Rodney Watson at the front
 at the Southsea Village in Palmerston Road Picture: Habibur Rahman

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  • Couple were on dream late honeymoon in Bali
  • Travelling between two paradise islands when ferry’s engine exploded injuring 25 people
  • Recovering in hospital
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It was absolute carnage. The seats were all ripped up and at different angles, the floor was ripped up. The windows had been blown out.

Ed and Donna Emery were travelling between two paradise islands when the fuel tank burst into a fireball, ripping up the inside of the vessel and badly injuring scores of people on board.

The couple were almost at the end of the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Bali in Indonesia, when the accident happened last Friday.

They say they realise they are lucky to be alive.

Donna, 38, spoke to The News from her hospital bed.

She said: ‘One minute I’m flicking through photos from our holiday, the next I’m staring at the ceiling and I’ve got no idea what happened to me.

Donna Emery being lifted to safety after the ferry explosion

Donna Emery being lifted to safety after the ferry explosion

‘I took a minute to look around and everyone had disappeared.

‘I turned to my left and saw Ed’s heel sticking out of a hole. I couldn’t see him.

‘It totally freaked me out. I had no idea what was going on.

‘I tried to pull him out but he is twice the size of me and I couldn’t put any weight on my feet.

Ed Emery after the ferry explosion

Ed Emery after the ferry explosion

‘A lovely guy, a passenger, ran past and shoved life-jackets in our faces and said, “put this on”.

‘There were so many feelings going through my head.

‘The strange thing is, even though I had big wounds they didn’t even hurt. I was numb, I was in shock.

‘It was so unbelievable. I looked round and saw a poor guy who was burnt – he had been set on fire from the blast. It was horrific.’

The couple, of Yarborough Road, Southsea, eventually managed to drag themselves out of harm’s way but there was more danger to come.

Donna said: ‘A boat which had been sent to rescue us pretty much ploughed into us. It was terrifying.’

The accident happened between the islands of Lombok and Bali.

The couple spent the first part of the journey sunning themselves on the top deck but moved below to get some shade.

Ed, an IT manager who has played football for clubs across the area, said: ‘We got married last year and unfortunately Donna was very unwell throughout our honeymoon in Santorini in Greece.

‘We decided to go on a dream trip, a year on, to make up for it.

‘But we made a big mistake moving downstairs on the ferry.

‘We were sitting on top of the engine when it happened.

‘No-one was hurt where we were sat a few minutes before.

‘The people just across from us downstairs were set on fire. It was awful.’

The floor was ripped up, all the windows blown out and metal chairs were twisted and flung across the room by the pressure of the explosion.

Donna suffered a badly injured knee and feet and contusion to her head.

Ed broke his ankle, split his heel and badly injured his neck and back.

‘Because we were both knocked out with the explosion at first we didn’t even realise there had been a fire,’ he said.

‘My immediate thought was we’d hit a rock.

‘I soon realised I was in a hole and couldn’t get up.

‘My wife didn’t have the strength to pull me out.

‘I was in agony with my back and my neck. My wife’s knee was split right open.

‘Thankfully some French passengers on board were amazing and found some sarongs to wrap up my heel which was flapping open.

‘I don’t think anyone else knew we were down there.

‘It was absolute carnage. The seats were all ripped up and at different angles, the floor was ripped up, the windows had been blown out.

‘Water started getting into the hole I’d just got out of.

‘I was desperately trying to get my life jacket on. It looks easy to fasten those clips but, believe me, it wasn’t.

‘My hands were shaking so much.’

Once the ferry was towed to the safety of Lombok their nightmare continued.

They were separated in the hospital, unable to speak to each other.

‘It was really upsetting,’ said Donna.

‘But some lovely girls who’d been on the boat with us sent messages between us.

‘I wanted to hold Ed’s hand for comfort but instead they were back and forth, I asked them to tell him I loved him.

‘They were giving us updates on each other.’

Next, due to the couple having different travel insurers, they were moved to different hospitals.

Donna’s hospital was infested with cockroaches while Ed’s bed was covered in someone else’s blood.

He refused to have his ankle operated on in Lombok and an air ambulance eventually flew them to a major, modern hospital in Bali.

Since then, wrangling with insurance companies has prolonged their stay.

But they should finally be on their way home by tomorrow.

Donna, a retail manager, said: ‘We count ourselves very lucky.

‘Yes, we hurt and what we’ve been through is horrible but compared to what could have happened, we’re really lucky.

‘I know we’re both feeling relieved because we’ve been in this hospital room for five days and haven’t had a single argument.

‘We feel pretty lucky to be alive.

‘It makes you look at life and realise it could have been a lot worse.

‘We moan about our mundane lives but having a mad day at work is nothing in comparison to what happened.

‘We’re sore, we’re tired and we just want to get home and mend ourselves.

‘The hospital here has been amazing.

‘We can’t fault them – apart from the food.

‘The Balinese people have been wonderful, as were all the other passengers who helped us.

‘We can’t wait to go home and have a steak and a glass of wine.’

Of the 129 passengers on board the Wahana Gili Ocean 4, 25 were hurt when a fuel line burst.