I’ve taken off my mask for the first time since suffering horrific burns in a New Zealand volcano explosion

A SURVIVOR of a volcanic explosion that killed her father and sister has removed her mask for the first time after suffering horrific burns 70 percent of your body.

Stephanie Browitt, 26, said she feels “tougher than I thought it would be” two and a half years after her family was “devastated” when the White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted on December 9, 2019.

Stephanie says she's

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Stephanie says she’s “tougher than I thought” more than two years laterCredit: 60 minutes
She was in a coma for two weeks and underwent multiple surgeries

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She was in a coma for two weeks and underwent multiple surgeriesCredit: 60 minutes
The 26-year-old took off her mask for the first time

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The 26-year-old took off her mask for the first timeCredit: 60 minutes

Her father Paul and 21-year-old sister Krystal were among 22 people killed when Stephanie’s mother Marie stayed behind on the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas and watched in horror as the volcano erupted.

Stephanie – from Melbourne, Australia – spent two weeks in a coma fighting for her life with third-degree burns before documenting her recovery on social media.

For the first time in public, brave Stephanie has removed her facial compression bandage to reveal the extent of her injuries.

Speaking to 60 Minutes, Stephanie looked in the mirror and said she sees “a person who has been through a lot more than I ever expected in life”.

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She added: “I’m tougher than I ever thought I would be.

“I think I’ve learned that the struggle to survive is a real thing. I fought to survive every day just to get back to myself. I never knew I had that in me.”

Stephanie required six months of surgery, including the amputation of her finger.

Pictures Stephanie shared from around the time show the shocking extent of her burns when she required skin grafts on her limbs

But Stephanie says the hardest thing she had to overcome was losing her father and sister in the tragedy.

She said: “I wish my father and sister were alive and still with me.

“I wish this day would leave me, it gave me many sleepless nights.

“There are many times when my mind won’t shut down. Even now it still hurts a lot.

“I just hope that now my sister and dad can see me and what I’ve been through.”

Recalling the horror incident, Stephanie said she saw black smoke rising from the volcano before they were ordered to run.

She said: “We heard the front guide yell ‘run’ and that’s when we realized and made the decision in a split second to just run away.

“It was coming from behind and getting louder and louder as it got closer and you could hear all the rocks. You could hear the sound of all the rocks hitting the ground and people just screamed.

“I didn’t think I would survive. I thought I would die.”

I just hope my sister and dad can see me now and what I’ve been through

Stephanie Browitt

The family couldn’t escape the deadly blast, and Stephanie and her father were stuck in agony on the island, waiting for rescue teams to find them.

A few days later, crews discovered Krystal’s body, and her father, Paul, died from his injuries nearly a month later.

Her mother had decided to stay on the cruise ship that day, and Stephanie says she was her rock.

She said: “While my scars are visible, she has her own that aren’t visible, but she’s always made sure to put me first.

Stephanie, who recently celebrated her 26th birthday, says she wants to “get back to as normal a life as possible” by working full-time.

She said she was afraid to take her mask off but was overwhelmed by the support.

She said: “I get a lot of people sharing their own stories about their struggles with their own personal issues.

“If I can just change one person’s life, it means everything to me.

“No one should be ashamed of their scars, they represent their struggle.

“I hope that I can continue to learn to be comfortable in my own skin, because everyone should be comfortable in their own skin.”

Stephanie's father and sister were killed in the blast while her mother watched in horror from the cruise ship

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Stephanie’s father and sister were killed in the blast while her mother watched in horror from the cruise shipPhoto credit: Instagram
Stephanie pictured before the volcanic eruption

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Stephanie before the volcanic eruptionPhoto credit: Instagram
The eruption killed 22 people in December 2019

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The eruption killed 22 people in December 2019Credit: AP
Pictures show the extent of Stephanie's burns

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Pictures show the extent of Stephanie’s burnsPhoto credit: Instagram

https://www.the-sun.com/news/5497544/taken-off-mask-burns-nz-volcano-blast/ I’ve taken off my mask for the first time since suffering horrific burns in a New Zealand volcano explosion

DevanCole

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