It is a story of survival that defies belief.
“Ouma was also watching television with the family at the time, but she went out for a few minutes to go and smoke and that is when the explosion occurred,” said Christa Arabes, as she narrated how her grandmother Ouma Sussana miraculously escaped death during the tragic incident which killed 10 family members.
The incident occurred on Farm Luhl/ Garib located 20 from Dordabis last month at one of the houses of the farmworkers when a gas cylinder inside the house exploded and the house burnt down. It is suspected that the gas may have been leaking and caught fire from one that was outside the house.
When The Patriot team visited the family on Monday, family members were gathered under a tree at one of the family houses still reeling in shock.
Ouma Sussana was there as well flanked by her grandchildren.
“It was very difficult for us to break the news to her because losing so many family members at her age can be devastating,” said Arabes.
Arabes told the news crew that her grandmother cannot remember the details of the incident. “We do not know her age and even if you ask her now she will also not know. Her identity documents were destroyed by the fire during the explosion.”
One of the family members said the gas cylinder was not used for two years and they suspect that one of the children might have tampered with it.
The injured victims were rushed to the Dordabis clinic where they received first aid treatment while waiting for ambulances that were dispatched from Windhoek. They were then rushed to the capital city for treatment.
One farmworker Bernard Kheibeb, who was among the first people to arrive on the scene after the tragic explosion, said he still has the gruesome images of how those who were inside the burning house ran out calling for help.
“Those who ran out were burning and screaming for help, I poured cold water on them as their skin fell off. It was a horrible experience,” he said.
He added: “I could not even eat properly the following week because of what I saw.”
The 10 deceased family members will be buried on the farm tomorrow.
Namibian Sun quoted Windhoek Rural Constituency Councillor Penina Iita saying there is a need to invest in solar power in rural areas where communities do not have electricity, to avoid catastrophes such as the gas explosion that occurred over the weekend.
“I stand here today with a sore heart grieving for the family members that lost their lives after the gas bottle exploded in Garib.”
A total of 15 people were watching television on the fateful night. Four remain in hospital in a critical but stable position.