Bali bombings survivor looks ahead as Australia marks 20th anniversary
SYDNEY — Australian Hanabeth Luke remembers like yesterday crawling through burning rubble and thick acrid black smoke after a bomb exploded at a nightclub in Indonesia’s tourist hotspot of Bali 20 years ago.
A total of 202 people, including 88 Australians, were killed when a car bomb exploded on Oct 12, 2002 outside the Sari Club and from another blast less than a minute earlier at Paddy’s Bar across the road.
It remains the single largest lost of life from an act of terror in Australian history. The country will remember the victims on Wednesday with the government hosting a memorial service at the parliament house in Canberra.
“We can’t bring those people back, but we can live the most, the best versions of our lives,” Luke told Reuters.
Luke, then 22 years old, escaped the burning building through the collapsed roof and scaled a three meter (10 foot) wall over electrical wires to jump to safety, frantically searching for her then partner, Marc Gajado, amongst the chaos outside.
Gajado, who did not survive the blast, was walking towards the front of the building when the bomb exploded.
As she searched for Gajado, Luke came across badly injured 17-year-old Tom Singer, helping lift him to his feet.
“I said, mate I don’t care if both of your legs are broken, you’re going to get up and we’re going to use both of our strengths and get you out of here,” Luke said.
A photo of Luke helping the severely burnt Singer, who died one month later in hospital, was splashed across newspapers globally after the tragedy, with some calling her the “Angel of Bali.”
“The nightmare is that, still 20 years later, Marc’s never going to come back,” said Luke, who now lives in Evans Head, 700 km (435 miles) north of Sydney, with her partner, Kieran, and two children.
“(Marc’s) parents will never see him again. Tom Singer’s parents, they’re the most wonderful people, their whole family, they’ve been rocked.” (Reporting by Jill Gralow; Writing by Renju Jose; Editing by Lincoln Feast)
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