A BRIT teacher has relived the horror petrol station explosion which left her unrecognisable after she was burned alive.
Zoe Eleftheriou, 22, from Medway, Kent, and Abigail Alexander, 18, from Ohio, USA, are lucky to be alive after suffering horrific injuries in the blast which was captured on a dashcam video in Cambodia, in August.
The pair were riding a motorcycle together past an LPG gas station in Siem Reap when it suddenly exploded – blowing them off the bike and causing severe burns.
Zoe was moved to a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, while Abigail was treated at the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital.
The English teacher lost her eyebrows and suffered severe facial bruises in the blast which claimed three lives and left another dozen badly injured.
Reliving her ordeal, Zoe said: "The receptionist did not recognise me and I had been working there for six months.
"I was burning and all I wanted was ice and I said 'I need it now'."
Zoe suffered 40 per cent fourth and fifth degree burns all over her body, badly affecting her left leg, hands and face.
It was thought she would have to spend at least two months in a burns treatment hospital in Bangkok but after gradually coming off the ventilator she was allowed to fly home to Kent.
The receptionist did not recognise me and I had been working there for six months. I was burning and all I wanted was ice and I said 'I need it now'.
She said: "At the moment, I have pink, red, white and brown skin and some sexy marks on my feet where my flip-flops had been.
"They say pigmentation can take six months or up to two years to heal.
"It sounds horrible, but I was functioning as a vegetable. I can't put weight on my foot, so I can't walk yet.
"It's great at the age of 22 that I am no longer in nappies and using a bed-pan.
"The first time I saw my face, I did not like it. I had no eyebrows or lashes and had lost my long hair. It was bright red, apple red, fire red.
"I have had tremendous support from family and friends.
"I don't know why at Heathrow they wanted to see my passport because I don't look anything like my passport photo."
Zoe's mother, Mary, said at the time of the blast: "I arrived beside Zoe to find her bandaged back up and still with tubes down her throat.
"It was explained they were still there because of the swelling on her neck and the rest of her body.
£215k MEDICAL BILL
"She is able to nod and shake her head to questions or write letters in the air with her bandaged hands but trying to guess what she is saying is pretty hard.
"Zoe is a fighter and will pull though this so please keep her and Abbey in your prayers."
Zoe added: "One seven year old said 'You are still the same Zoe, you just look a little different'."
And luckily, her medical bills of £215,000 were covered by a £350 travel insurance policy.
Abbey faces a similar treatment bill – but had no cover.
She was paid only £10,000 by the LPG station boss, while Zoe is still battling for compensation.
After her experience, she cannot stress enough the importance to fellow travellers of getting full travel insurance.
She said: "It was on my mum's tick list before I went anywhere. You might say I don't need it, but you do."
Dashcam footage from a car shows the huge burst or orange flames hitting passing motorcycle riders who were knocked to the ground from the force of the explosion.
A tanker truck containing 2,000 litres of the liquid fuel was transferring the gas to a storage tank behind the unlicensed LPG gas station when it ignited.
ILLEGAL & UNLICENSED
Brigadier General Phing Sambath, deputy police chief of Siem Reap province, said 12 fire trucks with 30 tanks of water were used to extinguish the blaze.
He said: "A total of 13 people, including police officers, guards, and female westerners, were wounded in the blast.
"The two foreigners, whose nationalities are not identified, had their skins burned while passing through the gas station when the tank exploded."
The police are gathering evidence and searching for the owner of the gas station who was not at the shop when officers arrived to begin investigation.
Major General Neth Vantha, National Police Fire Prevention Department director, said that according to investigations, the explosion was caused during the transfer of gas from the tanker into the storage tank.
He added: "The transfer was done improperly and some gas leaked. The station owner asked the staff to turn off the electricity and there was a sudden."
Source: Read Full Article