Thursday, March 4, 1999 Published at 13:05 GMT
Survivor relives Ugandan terror
Survivor Danja Walthers: "I thought I had finished with my life"
Swiss air hostess Danja Walthers had a narrow escape in the jungles of Uganda after choosing to stay with the English-speaking tourists singled out by the kidnappers.
She had booked a place on the gorilla safari to get over the trauma of losing friends on Swissair flight 111 from New York to Geneva, which crashed with no survivors last year.
She said the Rwandan rebels told their captives to remove their shoes and walk barefoot through the jungle.
Tourists were apparently picked out at random and killed during the day-long march.
Danja Walthers praised the role played by Mark Ross, the tour operator, who told her to be especially careful with the rebels.
At one point she thought it was her turn. "I felt someone grab me on my head. I started to cry. I thought I had finished with my life. I began praying but Mark saved me."
"Two of my friends were taken to one side. I pleaded that one of the men was my brother and to let him stay with us. That was the last I saw of them."
The parents of another survivor, Gary Tappenden, from Bromley in Kent, said: "Gary wouldn't be here if it wasn't for [tour guide] Mark Ross."
The first to arrive was Mark Avis, whose wife Rhonda was among those killed. He was whisked through a side entrance at Gatwick airport to avoid waiting reporters.
Mr Tappenden, who lost his travelling companion Martin Friend, will be staying in Uganda for a few days.
"Fiona survived the massacre and, as you can imagine, she has been traumatised." She was "probably in the best spirits she could be in the circumstances", he said after she had identified the bodies.