Sunday 21 October 2018

'Our little paradise has taken a hit, we are devastated' - Irish diver who lost her home in Indonesian earthquake

Fiona Smith (32) from Swords, Dublin and partner Ondrej Gomola (37) have been living on Gili Trawangan island for six years

Fiona Smith and her partner Ondrej Gomola have been living on Gili Trawangan for six years
Fiona Smith and her partner Ondrej Gomola have been living on Gili Trawangan for six years
Fiona's home and business were severely damaged in the earthquake

Rachel Farrell

An Irish woman has said she is heartbroken her home on the Gili Islands was "severely damaged" by the earthquake in Indonesia.

Dublin-born Fiona Smith (32) and her partner Ondrej Gomola (37) have been living on Gili Trawangan for six years, working as general managers for a diving company.

The scuba instructors, known as Fee and OJ by friends and locals, evacuated the island and headed to Bali yesterday after a magnitude 7.0 quake struck Lombok island on Sunday night. 

Swords native Fiona said the couple are “devastated” at the destruction caused by the quake.

“We are devastated and are trying to process what we have been through,” Fiona told Independent.ie.

“We can’t live in our house again, but things can be rebuilt, and stuff can be replaced.”

Fiona added their staff are their main priority, with more than 100 employees in need of help.

“We have been evacuated to Bali, but we have 109 local staff who have all been affected in some way from the disaster,” she said.

Fiona Smith and her partner Ondrej Gomola
Fiona Smith and her partner Ondrej Gomola

“Our priority is them and to get supplies to them as soon as possible. More than half of them have lost their houses.”

According to Fiona, businesses in the “paradise” they have lived in for six years have been greatly impacted. 

“Our little paradise island that we have called home has taken a hit and the foundation of our island and its businesses, which are the local people, have taken the biggest hit of all.”

A GoFundMe campaign was started to help Fiona and her partner Ondrej, originally from Bratislavia, Slovakia, “get back on their feet” and to rebuild their home.

“We are hoping to raise a few bob to get them back on their feet with the essentials so then they can continue to help others," a close friend said.

“Gili Trawangan needs homes repaired so people like Fiona and Ondrej can live back here. 

Fiona's home and business were severely damaged in the earthquake
Fiona's home and business were severely damaged in the earthquake

"Without the businesses open and repaired there will be limited tourists therefore the impact on locals and the island itself is unthinkable.”

A separate fundraising campaign has been set up to help rebuild Blue Marlin Dive, the diving centre that Fiona and Onrej work in.

According to the page, the staff members are believed to be safe and hope to return to the island next week to start rebuilding.

“Many of our local staff have been left homeless and with limited access to food and water,” Fiona said.

“Luckily, the Blue Marlin Dive team is safe. We hope to go back to the island next week when we can start receiving supplies to begin the rebuilding process.

“Fortunately, our facilities at Blue Marlin have minimal damage, but we cannot be up and running until all of our staff have taken care of their families affected.”

Yesterday, The Irish ambassador to Indonesia said that all of the Irish people caught up in this week's earthquake have been accounted for.

Ambassador Kyle O’Sullivan said that up to 55 Irish people were on the Gili Islands when the earthquake struck.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr O'Sullivan said that around 30 of those were evacuated on Sunday night but the remainder were on the beach in some cases for up to 36 hours waiting to be evacuated.

The earthquake has left at least 131 dead and devastated much of the infrastructure in Lombok. The majority of the deceased are believed to be local.

An estimate of 156,000 residents are believed to have been displaced due to extensive damage to homes.

  • More information on Fiona & Ondrej’s fundraiser can be found here.:

https://www.gofundme.com/gili-trawangan-earthquake-aftermath 

https://www.gofundme.com/earthquake-relief-for-blue-marlin 

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