Friends of two backpackers left clinging to life after suffering severe burns when the boat they were travelling on exploded into a ball of flames are desperately trying to raise funds to cover their medical expenses.
Ale Osr from Mexico and Mirka Totka from Slovakia were on the boat on Easter Sunday as it caught fire when the skipper turned on the ignition shortly after refuelling at the Hawkesbury River Marina in Brooklyn, north of Sydney.
Mirka, described by friends as a beautiful and energetic young woman, was celebrating her 30th birthday at the time after coming to Australia to start a new life.
Eleven people were on or near the boat when it exploded, with the injured running back to the marina where bystanders turned the area into a makeshift triage, filling containers with water and grabbing hoses to soothe burns.
Both girls were rushed to hospital in a critical condition, along with four others, with Ale suffering severe burns to about 60 per cent of her body and Mirka receiving burns to 40 per cent of her body.
Ale Osr from Mexico suffered severe burns to 60 per cent of her body after a boat she was on exploded north of Sydney on Easter Sunday
Mirka Totka from Slovakia was celebrating her 30th birthday at the time the boat caught fire at the Hawkesbury River Marina in Brooklyn
Mirka is currently in intensive care at Royal North Shore Hospital after suffering burns to her hands, arms, legs and torso
A friend of Ale’s revealed online she requires surgery every second day and needs multiple skin grafts as she faces months of rehabilitation.
‘There is no timeframe currently on how long she will be in ICU for, as she is still in a critical condition,’ the friend wrote.
‘Ale requires surgery roughly every two days to remove dead skin and tissue, and to clean her wounds. To do this, they need to put her under general anaesthetic as it would be too painful if she were awake.
‘She will require multiple skin grafts to help heal large areas that have been burnt and extensive surgery and rehabilitation over the next few months.’
The friend said Ale was working at a long day care centre at Gladesville ‘where the families, children and educators all absolutely love and adore her’.
‘Ale is known for her bubbly personality and infectious smile that has the ability to brighten anyone’s day,’ the friend said.
Emergency services rushed to the scene where they found a total of eight people injured and the boat engulfed in flames
The boat exploded when the skipper turned on the ignition, the force knocking those on the stern to the ground
In a separate online post, a friend of Mirka’s said she suffered burns mainly to her hands, arms, legs and torso.
‘Mirka is currently in the intensive burns unit undergoing skin grafting surgery and multiple other painful treatments,’ the friend wrote.
‘Roughly every three days she needs to have her wounds cleaned to remove the dead tissue so she does not get an infection. This is an extremely painful process which causes extreme fever after every procedure.’
Mirka works as a manager at an organic retail store, which is an industry that she has always wanted to work in, the friend said.
‘Mirka is loved by her friends and the local community which she gives so much to, and those that are close to her know how funny she is with her unconventional humour,’ the friend said.
As Ale was in Australia on an international student visa she was not covered by Medicare, while Mirka was on a bridging visa with no insurance, friends revealed.
‘We are unsure at this time how much her student medical insurance will cover, however we do know that her medical expenses will be significant and may not be entirely covered,’ a friends of Ale’s wrote.
Friends of Ale are rising funds for her medical expenses as she was in Australia on an international student visa
Mirka was on a bridging visa after coming to Australia from Slovakia to start a new life, friends said
‘On top of this, her loss of income, rent, bringing her family to Australia, rehabilitation, and so on, all add extreme financial pressure, something that we would like to support Ale with as much as we can.’
A friend of Mirka’s wrote: ‘Mirka is on a bridging visa with no insurance and at this time we don’t know exactly how much the financial burden will be for her long term rehabilitation, loss of income, rent, bills and cost for bringing her family to Australia.
‘We do know that the financial pressure will be significant. Mirka has no family in Australia and it’s times like this where we appeal for your and the community’s support so good people like Mirka have a small fighting chance to get through a traumatic experience like this.’
NSW Ambulance inspector David Morris said the explosion was the most catastrophic he had seen.
‘It’s one of the worst incidents I’ve seen in my 15-year career in ambulance, and thankfully we had all the other emergency services here to help us out,’ Morris told media after the incident.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.