A Timmins couple on vacation in Mexico were present at the ferry explosion that injured 25 people on Feb. 21 in Playa del Carmen.
Amy McKillip and her husband, Iain, were waiting to board the ferry around 1 p.m. when it suddenly exploded.
“It sounded like and looked like a cannon hit the side of the boat,” says McKillip. “The noise was so loud that I had ringing in my ears.”
McKillip says that at the time of the explosion, they were waiting for ferry passengers to disembark so they could board the ferry and cross to Cozumel.
“I can still remember the feeling of the port shaking from the explosion and the feeling that the ground beneath us was crumbling,” says McKillip. “There was no fire, just a loud bang, followed by the tremor, followed by a very large grey cloud of smoke and eventually a hole in the side of the ferry.”
McKillip says it took a few seconds for her to realize what had happened, saying that at first she “wondered in a second hit was about to happen” then “realized that the boat had an explosion from the inside.”
“In all but 30 seconds I went from scared, to confused, to frustrated, to grateful,” says McKillip. “I was grateful for my luck as I looked around and started seeing people with injuries.”
According to The Associated Press, 25 people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the explosion.
“Iain and I were far enough that we were safe from debris but still had a ‘front row seat’ to the explosion,” says McKillip.
McKillip says emergency service personnel responded quickly, with local police joining ferry employees in telling them to “get back.”
“Ambulances and fire trucks were there in minutes, followed by the federal police and eventually the army,” says McKillip. “There were armed guards everywhere within 20 minutes.”
The Port Administration of Quintana Roo did not release an official cause of the explosion, but suggested it may have been the result of “mechanical failure”, according to The Associated Press.
McKillip says that the ferry explosion delayed their plans for about four hours, but that they received a reimbursement for their ferry tickets.
In the end, they’re just happy to be safe.
“If the explosion was another five to ten minutes later than it was, that it would have been me in the explosion,” says McKillip.
The McKillips are not going to let the chaos of the explosion derail their vacation plans. They will return from their nine-day trip as planned on Feb. 26.
“I'm glad we get to come back,” says McKillip. “And we are not taking the ferry!”