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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Bali blast survivors return
Rachel Griffiths with relatives
Survivor Rachel Griffiths with relatives at Heathrow
The families of survivors from the Bali nightclub blast were reunited on Monday night, after their plane touched down at Heathrow.

Nicola Trott and Rachel Griffiths both suffered injuries in the terrorist attack, which is thought to have killed at least 188 people, including up to 33 Britons.

Ms Trott, from Gelli, Rhondda, began a backpacking trip two weeks ago and was in the nightclub in Kuta with two friends when the bomb exploded outside.

Rachel Griffiths
Rachel Griffiths was pulled from club wreckage

Seconds later, she and Ms Griffiths, from Tenby, Pembrokeshire, were buried under rubble as the building collapsed.

They were saved by Nicola's boyfriend, Jonathan Hartery, from Penarth, who managed to dig a hole for them to crawl through.

Fortunately, none of the three friends - who all share a house in Cardiff - was seriously injured.

Nicola had to have stitches for leg and feet wounds, Rachel suffered burns on her back, and all suffered cuts and bruising.

We tried to get on the roof, but there were flames everywhere

Rachel Griffiths, blast survivor

On Monday night, they were reunited with their families at Heathrow.

The two women survivors cried as they were asked about their recollections of the horrific bomb blast in Kuta.

Rachel Griffiths praised the bravery of Mr Hartery, who had hacked his way into the rubble to rescue his friends.

"It was terrible. John saved our lives," said Ms Griffiths. "There was a huge bang and we felt what we thought was a massive explosion from outside.

"We presumed it was from the bar opposite. "The next thing all the lights went out and we were in the dark."

She added: "Nicola was partly trapped under the roof, which had caved in. We tried to get on the roof, but there were flames everywhere.

"With John's intuition, he said 'Dig a tunnel and get out of the roof' and we managed to climb out the back end of the building by the toilet block, where people were helping each other get out."

Rachel's father, Denzil, said the news of her dramatic experience came as a great shock to him, after he had lost his wife during a routine operation just seven weeks ago.

The Indonesian island is popular with travellers

The travellers had been planning their six-month backpacking trip for some time, but have now decided not to continue.

It has been confirmed that a Welsh woman who was in the area of the nightclub just moments before the explosion narrowly avoided being injured.

Emma Cort, 27, from Gower, near Swansea, left the area with a friend to go home to change their clothes as they had been at a wedding earlier and felt overdressed.

They were yards from the club when the bomb exploded. Ms Cort, a nursery school teacher in Indonesia, was unhurt.

She rang her mother in Wales to let her know she was safe.

The family of a Cardiff solicitor are waiting to welcome him home after a similarly miraculous escape.

Heard explosion

Richard Thomas, 33, was just seconds from entering the club when the huge car bomb was detonated.

Mr Thomas - who works for solicitors Morgan Cole - had stopped for a quick meal with friends on the way to the club, and heard the bomb go off as they made their way there in a taxi.

Richard phoned his parents' home in Bridgend a couple of hours later and left a message on the answer machine.

Denzil Griifiths, survivor's father
Denzil Griifiths: 'Relief'

Lynn Thomas and his wife Valerie - both schoolteachers - picked up the message after an evening out.

Mr Thomas said his son and friends would have certainly been killed if they had not stopped for food.

"He had a very, very narrow escape," said Mr Thomas.

Foreign tourists

Richard had flown to Bali a week ago to watch a rugby tournament and was heading to the club with friends from the team.

Backpacker James Watts from Porthcawl, south Wales, has ended days of agony for his parents - by contacting them from the Indonesian island to say he is safe and well.

James, 24, had just started a year's travelling after taking time out from his job as a travel PR executive and left for Bali last month.

UK tour operators are flying home some of the 1,000 British tourists who were on Bali, while holiday companies are arranging alternative destinations for holidaymakers booked to visit Indonesia in the coming days.

A 24-hour telephone number set up by the British Consulate in Bali for people anxious about relatives or friends in Kuta is 00 62 361270601.

BBC Wales' Gail Foley
"The physical and emotional scars were evident."
BBC Wales' Sian Lloyd
"The families of the survivors are anxiously awaiting their return"
Survivor Rachel Griffiths
"People were just helping each other get out"

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See also:

14 Oct 02 | Wales
13 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
12 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Sep 02 | Country profiles
12 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
13 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
13 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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