Survivor pays emotional tribute to couple who died in house explosion
A senior who escaped after an explosion destroyed his house has described being plunged into darkness as his wall and ceiling collapsed around him.
But Stanley Thompson, 82, who was released from hospital yesterday more than a month after the incident, said what he endured paled in comparison to the family of Oscar and Jove Mascarinas – who were killed in the explosion – have had to go though.
Mr Thompson said: “Things did happen to me, but my neighbours … they used to sing out to me when I went past my house every day. They were very good people.
“It was one of those things that happened, and I can deal with that, but they didn’t make it. At least I have got my life. I can go on a little bit more.”
The senior was preparing to take a bath when the explosion rocked the apartment block where he lived at Hilltop Court in Southampton on May 2.
“I usually unplug my water heater until the afternoon to save electricity,” Mr Thompson said.
“When I got back in the afternoon I plugged it in with the intent of sitting on the couch and watching cricket and enjoying myself until the water was hot.
“I got my bath ready and was on my way out of the bedroom. I took one step more and the wall came down and then my ceiling, my son-in-law’s floor all came down on top of that.
“There was a big ‘whoomp’ and everything went pitch black. Everything was eerily quiet.”
He added: “You never think of this as a possibility. You don’t think it will happen to you.
“The evening that it happened, the whole community came. I have never seen so many firefighters and ambulances and people in the community. They all came. The blast was felt up in Somerset.
“It was comforting, but at that time I didn’t know the extent of it.”
The explosion extensively damaged the apartment block and caused a section of the building to collapse.
Mr and Mrs Mascarinas – a married couple from the Philippines – lost their lives, while Mr Thompson and two other men were injured in the blast.
He said the dust in the air had damaged his lungs but that after more than a month in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, he was grateful to be feeling better.
Mr Thompson was thankful for the support of the community, who had rallied together to support those affected.
The comments came as students from Elliot Primary donated $750 to the Bermuda Red Cross to support efforts to assist the families affected by the explosion.
Kimberly Creighton, the school’s headteacher, said staff and students had planned to raise funds for a school activity, but rapidly changed course when they heard about the tragedy.
“They had lost everything,” she said. “We had a grub day and the students donated funds and parents gave extra funds once they knew what they were raising the funds for.
“It was wonderful to see people rally around this cause. The children were so giving and the parents were so giving. Everyone really empathised with what happened.”
Dianne Gordon, disaster manager with the Bermuda Red Cross, praised the actions of the students to help a family in need.
“This warms my heart to see students and Elliot School come together like this,” she said.
“They heard about the Hilltop Court explosion and immediately thought about the families that were impacted. I think that sends a huge, huge message to our community about our young people.
“We know Bermudians are extremely generous in times of disasters or emergencies but to see these young people coming together and giving this sum is a huge message.”