Vietnamese survivors of a terrorist bomb attack that killed three of their compatriots in Cairo, Egypt last month say their hearts are warmed by the display of human kindness from the people and officials of both Vietnam and Egypt after the attack.
Two tourists and a guide, all of whom were Vietnamese nationals, were killed while 12 other passengers were injured when a roadside bomb detonated under a tour bus less than four kilometers from Egypt’s world-famous Giza pyramids in Cairo on December 28.
The bodies of the three victims were brought home on a flight that landed in Ho Chi Minh City at 1:00 am on Sunday.
Ten of the 12 survivors have arrived home safely on two different flights last week, while the remaining two will take another week to recover and be well enough to fly, according to a representative of Saigontourist, a Ho Chi Minh City-based travel agency that operated the tragedy-hit Egypt tour.
The fateful night
“The bus was turning on to a bigger road, moving slowly, when all of a sudden there was a loud bang and lights flashing,” a survivor recalled the moment their bus was hit by the blast, speaking to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper upon returning to Ho Chi Minh City.
“The bus came to an abrupt halt, and a shower of shattered glass poured down on us. The main door was torn through like paper.”
Injured passengers screamed in pain, while those sustaining minor wounds tried to calm themselves and got up to check on others.
The road, which had been busy with tour buses taking travelers to the Giza pyramids for a popular nightly sound and light show, plunged into chaos as other vehicles scrambled to get away from the site of the blast.
Those who could move around began helping the injured out of the vehicle, which was when they saw that a large hole had been carved out by the blast on a wall just opposite of where they were hit.
“It was a horrifying spectacle, one that I had never witnessed before in my life,” the survivor recalled.
Faith in humanity
Nguyen Thuy Quynh, 57, one of the three Vietnamese killed in the bomb attack, is remembered by fellow passengers on the same tour for her caring for others even when her own life was at stake.
“Quynh got up right after the blast and started asking if everyone was okay, but then she began to feel dizzy and could only say two more sentences before passing out,” a survivor said.
“She was rushed to the hospital but didn’t make it.”
For other survivors, the display of love from the Egyptian people and authorities gave them faith to stay strong in an otherwise haunting experience.
“Egyptians have a great love for Vietnam,” said a family member of one of the tourists, who had flown to Egypt to take care of their loved one following the attack.
“During our stay in Egypt, we received encouraging smiles and apologies for the blast from the local people. [The Egyptians] are as pained by what happened as Vietnamese people are.”
The Embassy of Egypt in Vietnam is also praised for opening their doors on a weekend to process visa applications from family members of the victims.
Survivors said they also had Saigontourist to thank for the tour operator’s professional and responsible response to the crisis.
Vietnamese Ambassador to Egypt Tran Thanh Cong landed a good impression on victims and families for his commitment to resolving any issue relating to the incident in the swiftest manner.
The devoted ambassador remained on his citizens’ side at all times during their treatment at a local hospital, and even took it on his own to borrow a rice cooker from a local Vietnamese family to cook Vietnamese food for everyone.
“He’s such a loving ambassador,” a survivor said.
After all, the terrorist attack has proved that human kindness can shine through even in the darkest of times and greatest of sorrows.