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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 July, 2005, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Survivors speak of bomb horrors
Tourists on coach in Sharm al-Sheikh
One holidaymaker said one last beer saved his life
British tourists returning home after the Egyptian bomb attacks described how they saw dozens of dead and injured people lying in the streets.

Hundreds of holidaymakers were flown to Gatwick and Manchester airports on a special mercy flight from Egypt.

Tourist Stuart Burns, from Dunfermline, Scotland, described scenes of panic.

He said: "There was mass hysteria, people screaming and shouting, 'Get down', we thought it might have been a rocket attack."

When we ran from the main town there were just body parts everywhere, it was like a war film
Stuart Burns, Dunfermline

Three explosions - including two apparent car bombings - devastated Ghazala Gardens Hotel, a car park, and a market in Sharm al-Sheikh, killing at least 88 people.

Britain's ambassador to Egypt Sir Derek Plumbly has said there are a "number of Britons" among those killed.

Mr Burns, 34, a mechanic, his partner Diane Gibson, 32, a teacher, and son Conner, 11, were staying at the hotel but were enjoying a night out when the bombers struck.

Mr Burns said: "It is like a war zone out there, that is the only way to describe it.

"We were in a bar when the bomb went off, a mile away from the hotel but you could feel the force vibrate in your chest.

He and his family had to run through the bombed streets heading for cover in the desert.

"When we ran from the main town there were just body parts everywhere, it was like a war film.

Hotel Ghazala Gardens, Sharm al-Sheikh
Eye witnesses said the aftermath was like a scene from the Blitz

Ernest Stockley, 59, his partner Patricia Barr, 56, and their two-year-old daughter, Nichola, were in bed at the hotel when the bomb went off.

Mr Stockley, a van driver from Merseyside, said: "There was a terrific bang, we were shook out of bed and every piece of glass in the room exploded.

"All the window frames were blown in and the doors were blown off. Then we heard screaming.

"We had the child between us in bed. The cot was under the window. I looked at it later and it was half full to the top with shards of glass. I'm just so relieved we were not hurt. "

Girl's screams

Others who had a narrow escape were Gerry and Sylvia Duffy, from Fife in Scotland.

Mrs Duffy, 44, said: "We had been in the part of the hotel that blew up just half an hour earlier. After the explosion we heard a young girl screaming, 'help me, help me' she was covered in blood."

Mr Duffy, a joiner, added: "The car bomber came into the hotel at the front, and the exhaust from the car was blown 200 yards away at the back end. There was blood everywhere.

"We are just grateful to be back home. I won't be going abroad next year."

Meanwhile Pamela Mann, 48, on holiday with husband David, also 48, went to hospital to comfort an injured British girl.

The 14-year-old had lost her mother, later found to be alive, but her sister is critical in hospital.

British tourist Scott Walker, Sharm al-Sheikh
Someone up there was looking out for us
Scott Walker, Lancs

Mr Mann, a draughtsman from South Shields, said: "It was like a scene from the Blitz. It was horrific. Everybody was crying and screaming in panic."

He said people gathered together in the darkness to calm each other down for several hours.

"There was no organisation and no information. Everybody congregated on a football field and we were there until dawn," he added.

Another holidaymaker described how persuading his girlfriend to have one more drink in a nearby bar saved them from death.

Scott Walker, 29, from Leyland, Lancs, said: "It saved my life that beer.

"Apart from me wanting to stop for that last beer we more than likely would have been caught up in the main blast as we walked back. Someone up there was looking out for us."

Abta spokeswoman Frances Tuke said if tourists did not wish to go to Sharm al-Sheikh, then Abta will cancel members' holidays for them free of charge, or take them on a different holiday or give them a refund.

However, the major European tour operators are carrying on with their normal schedules.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the Foreign Office already warned of a high terrorism risk there and he would only warn against travel if there was an imminent threat of terrorism, an endemic threat or where law and order have broken down.


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