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The BBC's Justin Webb, in Kaprun
"The shock waves will take a long time to stop reverberating round the Alps"
 real 56k

The BBC's Patrick Bartlett in Kaprun
"A small team is continuing to work over night"
 real 56k

The BBC's Robert Broomby in Kaprun
"As the workers push into the tunnel, the task is becoming increasingly difficult"
 real 28k

Monday, 13 November, 2000, 17:40 GMT
British tunnel victim trapped by fate
Christl  and Kevin Challis
Mr Challis met his future wife while on a ski trip
A British ski instructor killed in Saturday's Alpine train tunnel fire died because he gave up his seat on an earlier train to an elderly man, said his widow.

Kevin Challis, 40, from Bridport, Dorset, offered the seat next to his eight-year-old daughter, Siobhan, to the man and waited for the next train.

Mr Challis managed to escape the blazing train, which takes skiers from the Austrian resort of Kaprun up through the Kitzsteinhorn glacier, but was killed by fumes rolling up the tunnel.

Siobhan Challis
The couple's daughter Siobhan, 8, witnessed the tragedy
His Austrian wife, Christl, 39, described him as a "wonderful husband and lovely father".

"He was out of the train and ran up the slope to get away from it," she said.

"If anybody would have escaped it would be him. He was very fit. I'm sure he did not mess around. He would have got out and tried to get away."

Their daughter, who watched from the top of the railway as smoke billowed up from the tunnel, is said to be devastated by the tragedy.

"She was at the top, saw the steam coming out and was worried that something was wrong," said Mrs Challis.

Respect

"She was worried that she left her dad alone. I'm so happy that she did."

Mrs Challis said her husband was an "extremely popular" man and had lots of friends.

"He was a wonderful husband and a lovely father," she said.

"I was so happy with him - so happy that we had a wonderful relationship and everything was working.

A wreath and candle
Flowers and candles have been left my mourners in Kaprun
"He was always optimistic and such a kind, sensitive person."

She said the couple met when Mr Challis was on a two-week trip to Kaprun as a ski instructor in 1991.

They married in May 1992 and settled in the resort, where they have lived ever since, returning regularly to Britain to visit Mr Challis's family in Bridport.

She said his family were coming over to Austria to be with her.

A union flag was flying at the family home on Monday and a candle was lit in the front drive as a mark of respect.

Austria is in national mourning after the disaster, but investigators still have no idea what caused the fire. The death toll is current at 159.

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See also:

13 Nov 00 | Europe
Grim task at fire tunnel
26 Apr 00 | UK
Tyne tunnel safety slated
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