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Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Concorde tragedy 'missed by an hour'
The remains of the hotel hit by Concorde
The remains of the Hotelissimo hotel hit by the Concorde
Fifty British teenagers due to check into an hotel hit by an Air France Concorde escaped the tragedy by an hour.

The group, who play in the Suffolk Youth Wind Band, are recovering from the shock of their narrow escape, but have vowed to continue with the planned concert tour of Paris.

The youngsters, aged between 14 and 19, were the only guests booked in to stay at the Hotelissimo, a few miles from Charles De Gaulle Airport.

The Concorde crashed into the hotel in a ball of flames shortly after take off, killing 113 people.

Four civilians who died on the ground were believed to be hotel workers making final preparations for the visit of the band.

Suffolk's music adviser for youth programmes, Philip Shaw, admitted the disaster had affected everyone badly.

Speaking from the scene, he said: "Naturally the members of the band are subdued.

"They are all aged between 14 and 29, but they definitely want to go ahead with their music programme, despite what has happened."

The Wind Band was travelling half an hour behind other coaches carrying more than 100 members of the Suffolk Youth Orchestra.

Smoke

They had been booked into the neighbouring Hotel Ibis, which the Concorde narrowly avoided as it struggled to climb after take-off.

Mr Shaw said he knew something had happened as the coach approached the airport.

"We could see smoke for some time and there were rescue vehicles on the road," he explained.

"At the very least it was obvious there had been a major road accident. Then, when we arrived at the hotel, it was explained just what had happened."

Mr Shaw spoke of the utter relief felt by the whole band and the determination to honour their five white-tie dates in Paris, part of a 13-event programme.

"Maybe this has been a rite of passage for the band," he said.

"We are truly sorry about what has happened but we are determined to carry on with our music. Everybody agreed with that - life goes on."

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