Page last updated at 19:50 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 20:50 UK

Britons stuck in Majorca fly home

Bomb site
At least two civil guards were killed in the explosion

British holidaymakers stranded at the airport on the island of Majorca following a car bomb attack are being allowed to fly home.

Flights out of the airport in the capital Palma were suspended for several hours and those flying to the island from the UK also faced delays.

Tour operator Thomson said two flights en route to the Spanish island had been forced to turn back to Gatwick Airport.

Two police officers were killed in the blast in the Palmanova beach resort.

The UK Foreign Office said no Britons had been killed.

'Huge cheer'

Tony Craggs, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was one of the stranded passengers.

He said his Easyjet flight from Palma had been delayed for an hour but when the BBC spoke to him at 1730 BST, he had been told he could board the plane.

The reaction to close all the ports and airports seems somewhere between infantile and an over-reaction
Passenger Neil Williams

The 23-year-old company director said a huge cheer had gone up and people were hugging each other.

"It looks like the ordeal is over," he said. "We were in the boarding lounge and the pilot of our plane came to tell us there had been a bomb attack.

"We didn't know if it affected our safety and people were panicking."

He said the departures area was "jam-packed" and there would be a backlog of flights.

Eight Thomson Holiday flights were due to fly from Palma to the UK, a number of which were delayed.

Bomb scene
British ex-pat Steve Reynolds took this picture of the bomb site

A spokesman said: "Our customers at Palma Airport waiting to return on flights to the UK all appear to be calm and awaiting further information.

"We are advising passengers to arrive at the airport as normal, but to be prepared for delays."

The tour operator said it also hoped to resume departures from the UK to Palma as quickly as possible.

Four Thomson Airways flights were in the air bound for Majorca when news came through that the airport was being shut.

One plane from Gatwick and another from Norwich were turned around mid-flight and re-directed to Gatwick. They were due to take off again tonight.

The other two were diverted to one of the other Balearic islands.

'Over-reaction'

Several airlines have UK flights that are scheduled to leave for Majorca tonight.

Two Easyjet flights were due to leave Gatwick from 1740 BST onwards.

Lettings agent Kevin Blake and his family were booked on an Easyjet flight at 1740 BST, which departed two hours later.

Speaking from the check-in queue at the Sussex airport, the 44-year-old, from Cobham in Surrey, said they heard about the blast just as they were waking out their front door.

"We do not know anything at this point, they are just telling us to queue up and check in," he said.

"I'm not concerned from a safety aspect, I just want to know if we're going or not. I don't want to spend the night at the airport."

Another traveller, Neil Williams, an architect from London, was on the same flight.

"The reaction to close all the ports and airports seems somewhere between infantile and an over-reaction," he said.

'Big fire'

Three in-bound flights due to arrive at Stansted Airport, Essex, from 1730 BST onwards, have been delayed.

In Scotland, two flights left for Majorca from Glasgow and Edinburgh around 1500 BST. An aircraft due to arrive in Glasgow from Majorca at 2050 BST has been delayed until 0315 BST.

The explosion at a Civil Guard base in Palmanova has been blamed on the separatist group Eta, which wants an independent homeland in Spain's Basque region.

In the hours after the blast, police ordered that no planes, ships or pleasure boats leave the island while they hunted for the bombers.

Helen Halstead, 30, from Manchester, was eating in a restaurant when she heard the blast.

"As soon as I heard the noise I ran around the corner and found there was quite a big fire in a car. There was debris around the car and in the road and smoke in the sky," she said.

"There was a guy on the floor and they were trying to resuscitate him. Because it was outside the Civil Guard office, they were there straight away, cordoning off the road and moving people out of the way."



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SEE ALSO
Travel chaos after Majorca bomb
30 Jul 09 |  Europe



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