Destinations

Australians escape Vanuatu fire

AAP

A group of Australians who were in Vanuatu to help with rebuilding efforts in the wake of Cyclone Pam have been evacuated to the capital after escaping a resort fire.

The 21 Australians were on Tanna island on Monday night when what are believed to be petrol bombs were used to set cars alight, before the flames reached parts their resort and damaged equipment and property, local media reports.

One Australian woman reportedly received mild injuries after she was hit in the face and hand by stones hurled by youths.

George Cecil said his daughter Stephanie was flown to Port Vila with 12 others by the Australian High Commission following the attack.

“One girl who was sharing Stephanie’s room was slightly injured by these youths throwing rocks,” Mr Cecil said.

“She opened the door apparently when she could smell smoke and she was hit with a hail of stones. But they got out.”

After escaping the blaze, the resort guests gathered on a local beach.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reports the resort’s owner had become subject of threats from locals after a young man from the island was found dead on July 18.

A man has been arrested and charged with intentional homicide by police and is in custody in Port Vila.

The owner, Hugh Lowe, told the newspaper the fire began after what appeared to be petrol bombs were used on the cars.

Mr Cecil said he received a text from Stephanie saying the hotel had caught fire and stones were thrown at the group.

“We heard no more because there was no reception and there was only one cell phone working for the whole group of people,” he said.

“I was really quite panicky by then.”

Most of the Australians were evacuated to Port Vila by the Australian High Commission on a small chartered aircraft on Tuesday.

Mr Cecil said he was expecting his daughter to return to Australia on Friday morning, although she wanted to go back.

Comment has been sought from DFAT.


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