Hanabeth Luke: My life after Bali bombings

By Jonathan Morris
BBC News, Plymouth

image captionHanabeth Luke "keeping the spirit alive" on her former boyfriend Marc Gajardo's longboard

It is nearly 10 years since a bomb killed more than 200 people in the Indonesian island of Bali.

Cornwall mechanic Marc Gajardo was among those killed, but girlfriend Hanabeth Luke survived.

"Every time I read the names of those killed and it brings tears to me, it's heartbreaking."

Hanabeth Luke, now 32, is returning to Bali for an official ceremony when she will be reading out those names.

They include that of her then 30-year-old boyfriend who was partying with her at the Sari nightclub, opposite Paddy's Bar in Kuta.

'Time was up'

The pair had stopped over in Bali on their way from Cornwall to Hanabeth's home in Byron Bay, Australia.

image captionHanabeth Luke and Marc Gajardo had stopped in Bali for some surfing on their way to Australia

On 12 October 2002, when Hanabeth and Marc were in the Sari, Cher's song Do You Believe in Love? came on.

"I've got some pride guys," said Marc and left the dance floor.

Seconds later two bombs ripped through Paddy's Bar first and then the Sari.

"There was a wave of hot air and the most powerful noise," said Hanabeth.

"Everything was destroyed in a second.

"I was thrown into the air and landed on the ground. I thought my time was up for a while.

"Somehow I wriggled myself free from the rubble and I was intact.

"I managed to climb onto the roof four metres above using severed electrical wire, dropped down on to rubble and I was all right."

"Marc was closer to the bombing at the front of the club and very sadly he was killed instantly."

Those killed in the attack were from 21 countries, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians and 28 Britons.

Hanabeth, whose family had emigrated from Cornwall to Australia in 1996, said: "It took me until eight the next morning to find Marc. A friend found him at a morgue at the hospital and I called his parents straight away.

"They are like family to me and I didn't want them to hear from anyone else."

'Why the hate?'

The bombings changed her life and now she has written a book, Shock Waves, about how she came to terms with them.

It was in Cornwall soon after the bombings that Marc's parents, Carol and Ray, from Carnon Downs, suggested that she should tell her story.

"There have been a lot of different stages of grief and a quest for understanding and trying to process what happened," she said.

"Initially I wanted to understand why anyone could hate someone else so much to do that to them and destroy lives like that.

"I started to speak at peace marches."

She even debated with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on television, saying that going to war in Iraq would cause more of the violence she had witnessed.

She also organised a surfing memorial event in Cornwall which raised (AUS) $12,000 (£7,680) for a new burns unit in Bali.

Hanabeth, now aged 32, lectures at Southern Cross University near Byron Bay.

She said writing Shock Waves was a cathartic experience.

"There was still some processing that I had not done," she said. "The book has helped me deal with what happened."

Hanabeth also keeps one of Marc's surfboards with her.

"Surfing was what brought us together in the first place," she said.

"He loved longboarding, so it's keeping the spirit alive."

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