A chilling picture of three young women smiling as they sailed along a river was taken just moments before their boat mysteriously exploded – leaving them with horrific life-threatening burns.
Mirka Tothova was celebrating her 30th birthday with ten others on board a boat on Easter Sunday when the vessel exploded into flames on the Hawkesbury River Marina near Brooklyn, north of Sydney.
The shop manager from Sydney’s eastern suburbs suffered burns to 30 per cent of her body and was one of four rushed to hospital in a critical condition.
She remains in the burns unit with John Yoon, 33, and Karoline Santana, a small business owner from Brazil who suffered burns to 30 per cent of her body.
Karoline’s partner Sam, 33, who was burnt on five per cent of his body has been released from hospital, along with another friend, Bernie Serrou, 43.
Ale Osr, an international student from Mexico, suffered severe burns to 60 per cent of her body and remains in ICU at Royal North Shore Hospital.
Mirka, Karoline and Ale were photographed sitting on the back of the boat just 30 minutes before the tragedy struck
Ale Osr from Mexico suffered severe burns to 60 per cent of her body after the boat exploded north of Sydney on Easter Sunday
The three women – Mirka, Karoline and Ale – were photographed sitting on the back of the boat just 30 minutes before the tragedy struck.
A two-year-old toddler, who appears in the background of the image, had been on the deck moments before the boat exploded but was moved by chance to the front of the boat and escaped without injury.
Ms Tothova remains in the intensive burns unit at Royal North Shore Hospital where she will undergo skin grafts.
Her partner of four years Joseph Kwon, 33, was standing on the pontoon pushing the boat off after refuelling when the vessel suddenly exploded.
He recalled the horrifying moment of seeing his girlfriend covered in flames.
‘It’s like we were in a terrorist attack, one minute it was calm, the next it was mayhem,’ Mr Kwon told The Daily Telegraph.
‘Mirka’s hair and clothes were on fire, I was patting them out with my hands.’
Mr Kwon described his girlfriend as a fighter after she moved to Australia to start a new life.
Mirka Tothova is currently remains at Royal North Shore Hospital after suffering burns to her hands, arms, legs and torso
Karoline, a small business owner from Brazil received burns to 30 per cent of her body
Emergency services rushed to the scene where they found a total of eight people injured and the boat engulfed in flames
‘She moved here five years ago, so it’s hard when she has no family here — we’ve pretty much only got each other,’ Mr Kwon said.
The couple had been celebrating two birthdays and a farewell with friends Mr Kwon had known since primary school when disaster struck.
‘You never expect something like this to happen,’ Mr Kwon told 7news.com.au.
‘One moment you’re enjoying life, the next it’s a horrific scenario.’
Friends are desperately trying to raise funds to cover the medical expenses of the three women, with GoFundMe pages set up for each of the victims.
‘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,’ Ms Tothova’s fundraising page reads.
‘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.’
Karoline’s partner Sam (left), 33, who was burnt on five per cent of his body has been released from hospital
Joseph Kwon (right) described his partner Mirka (left) as a fighter
Ms Osr (pictured) requires surgery every second day and needs multiple skin grafts as she faces months of rehabilitation
Ms Tothova’s wounds are cleaned every three days to remove the dead tissue so they do not become infected.
A fundraiser for Karoline, 25, describes the Brazilian national as a ‘beautiful young woman’.
‘She is a beautiful, sweet and caring person, who is loved by everyone she comes across,’ the page says.
Karoline will require ongoing hospitalisation and multiple medical procedures in the wake of the explosion.
‘Her partner Sam has got 5 per cent burns to his body and has been bedside by Karoline in the Royal North Shore hospital as her parents are currently in Brazil and have no immediate family members in Australia,’ the page says.
‘Unfortunately, Karoline does not have private health insurance and we are unsure what additional medical costs she will incur due to this accident, but we do know there is a long road ahead.
‘Karoline is self-employed, her business has come to a halt and has no means of paying her existing bills herself.
‘Although Sam and Karoline are very strong people and rarely ask people for help, now is the time where they really need our support.’
Karoline’s burns are seen after the boat exploded north of Sydney on Easter Sunday
The boat exploded when the skipper turned on the ignition, the force knocking those on the stern to the ground
Sam (right) remains beside Karoline as she receives treatment in hospital following the explosion
Meanwhile, Ms Osr remains in intensive care.
Friends revealed Ms Osr 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,’ a friend wrote online.
The friend said Ms Osr 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.
As Ms Osr was in Australia on an international student visa she was not covered by Medicare.
Mirka Tothova (pictured) suffered burns to 30 per cent of her body in the horrific explosion
‘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 Ms Osr wrote.
‘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.’
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.
You can donate to Mirka’s page here, Karoline’s page here and Ale’s page here.
Mirka Tothova’s partner Joseph Kwon was standing on the pontoon when the boat erupted into flames (pictured)
Ms Osr was working at a long day care centre at Gladesville ‘where the families, children and educators all absolutely love and adore her’