Cape Town woman on holiday in Vietnam dies in fire on island
Alana Lens, 33, who was living in Cape Town, had been on holiday with a friend when the incident occurred on Saturday.
She and the friend had decided to visit separate parts of the country and had plans to meet up again.
According to a Vietnamese news outlet, flames engulfed the tenanted house called The Cosy Stay on Phu Quoc, a famous tourist island off the southern Vietnamese province of Kien Giang, following an explosion at around 2.30am on Nguyen Thi Dinh Street in Duong Dong Town.
The fire was extinguished after about 40 minutes, but the entire place had already been gutted.
It was reported that a Russian national was also killed and five others hospitalised following the fire.
Alana’s ex-husband, Wynand Lens, is currently in Vietnam working with the embassy to get her body back home.
“It is difficult now because it is the holiday season, but the embassy has been in contact with us daily.
“The homeowner said the fire was caused by an electric short-circuit or bad wiring. The explosion must have happened afterwards because Alana and the Russian girl died of smoke inhalation. She was sleeping,” said Wynand.
He said Alana had gone to a festival the day before and went home early to report for work as a digital nomad, which allowed her to work from anywhere in the world.
Wynand added that he was having communication challenges and was talking to police through Google Translate.
“I just need to get her cremated and back home; she shouldn’t be in a drawer.
“It’s the worst message anybody could ever send you, to say ‘she died’. We think about her life a lot and that really helps,” he said.
Alana’s aunt, Annelle Schvartzkopff, said: “We are not past the shock yet. We are still processing everything with Home Affairs.
“It took us three days to find someone who could assist us. None of the contact details for government departments here or there worked.
"Thankfully, someone knew someone at the consulate in Hanoi, who assisted us.”
The 33-year-old would be remembered for her “fearless nature, joy for life and adventurous spirit”, Schvartzkopff added.
“When she was little, she believed she was a fairy, and as she grew up, she continued to spread her magic everywhere. She was a free spirit.”
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.