A city university graduate has told of her moment of panic after her boyfriend went missing during a killer earthquake.
Viola Elenius, who studied at Aberdeen University, was on the remote Indonesian island of Gili Air when a devastating earthquake struck, tearing down her house and plunging her into darkness.
The 28-year-old said it was pitch black as she sprinted out of her home. She could not see her partner Giovanni Tafone, and feared he could be trapped inside the collapsing building.
However, Viola’s fear turned to joy when she spotted Giovanni and they were able to run into a field to safety.
“It was such a strange night,” said Viola, who is from Finland and studied chemistry at the city university.
“It was 7.45pm on August 5 and Giovanni and I were watching TV when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake started.
“I’ve been in earthquakes before and the start feels as though a lorry is passing by your window. You feel vibrations underground, but it rarely gets more serious than that.
“It carried on and started to get more violent. My instinct was just to run out.
“The power went almost immediately and it was a cloudy night so it was absolutely pitch black outside.
“I couldn’t see Giovanni, and panicked.”
She added: “I had a heart-gripping moment that something bad was happening, especially because the roof was crumbling.
“I was so relieved when Giovanni appeared,” she said.
Viola said her neighbour and landlord was in floods of tears when he saw the property falling apart.
The landlord warned Viola not to re-enter her home to retrieve her belongings, afraid an aftershock could bury her alive.
The biggest fear, however, was of a tsunami.
Viola, who worked at Wine Raks and catering firm Entier during her time in Aberdeen, said: “Because the island is flat and exposed, many people believe a tsunami would wipe it out and so locals were absolutely terrified of that happening, especially when there was a warning it might. Everybody started praying.
“Thankfully, the warning was lifted 30 minutes later and there was an element of relief.
“My house lost a couple of walls so I now have very little material possessions, but I have shelter and I’m not starving.”
Many people on the island were too scared to go back indoors, so many spent the night sleeping in the field beside Viola’s house.
“There was a lot of community spirit and locals went into their houses and brought out blankets for us,” said Viola, who works as a dive shop manager.
Viola, who lived in the Granite City for five years, added: “I know first aid due to my job and I expected to be needed to help injured people the next morning, but there weren’t many casualties here.
“It was worse on nearby Lombok (where more than 300 people died) as many people were praying in mosques at the time of the earthquake.”
On August 6 Viola helped more than 100 people sail away from the island to safety.
Viola has temporarily moved to Bali until the aftershocks have stopped and they can return to help rebuild the island.
She has launched a fundraising campaign to help earthquake victims rebuild their lives and it has so far raised more than £8,000.
Visit gofundme.com/oceans5-amp-gili-air-recovery to donate funds.