UK

Tunisia attack: Survivors' stories

Flowers left on the beach in Tunisia Image copyright Getty Images

A total of 38 people were killed in the attack on a beach in Tunisia, with the British death toll set to rise above 30.

They were killed when a gunman, with links to Islamic State extremists, opened fire on a beach in Sousse, outside two hotels.

He had hidden a gun under a beach umbrella and also threw grenades, forcing people to run for their lives.

Some survivors have been speaking about their ordeal.

Full coverage of the Sousse attack


'I played dead'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAngela Evans explains in graphic detail how she survived the Tunisian beach attack

Angela Evans and her friend lay face down in the sand playing dead as the gunman passed.

"We both looked up, stood up, there was this man there in black, several rows of sun loungers away just stood there with his huge gun moving round all the people shooting them, just killing, murdering them.

"You can't run, you're an open target running, he was shooting anyone on their feet as well as people on sun loungers, he was just killing them.

"So we both at the same time, [said] play dead, we just fell to the ground, faces in the sand.

"The shooting continued. He just kept on shooting, it was coming nearer and nearer. Then his feet were at the side of me.

"You don't move, because you're next. You just pray to God.

"Then there was this noise, this heavy clicking noise, into the sand fell part of the gun, a magazine... You still have to pretend you're dead.

"And then click again. He put more bullets in.

"And then there was a noise. I don't know what noise, just a noise. I could feel him move and the shooting started again."

Ms Evans, from King's Lynn in Norfolk, described hearing the gunman leave the beach towards a hotel.

When the pair thought it was safe, they ran to another hotel. She said staff there hid her and her friend in an office until it was over.


Shot Welshman 'was human shield'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSaera Wilson said her fiance Matthew James was shot in the shoulder, chest and hip in the terror attack

Saera Wilson said her fiance Matthew James, 30, from Trehafod, near Pontypridd, was trying to protect her during the gunfire and used his body as a human shield.

Ms Wilson, 26, said Mr James was hit in the shoulder, chest and hip.

Speaking from the hospital where Mr James, known as Sas, is being treated, Ms Wilson said: "He took a bullet for me. I owe him my life because he threw himself in front of me when the shooting started.

"He was covered in blood from the shots, but he just told me to run away."


'We just ran'

Image caption Ben Milton proposed to his girlfriend Shelley Hay after deciding to "not let them stop me"

Shelley Hay, 25, and Ben Milton, 24, from Cardiff, were on the beach with sunbathers when the attack began.

Ms Hay told the BBC: "I heard what I thought were fireworks and looked to the left of me and the whole beach was running, it was like a stampede.

"I have never seen anything like it in my life. There were shots - from what I know now as I could see sand flying in the air - I believe it was bullets hitting the floor and the sand was just hitting back, so we just ran."

The couple got engaged hours later. Mr Milton proposed after deciding to "not let them stop me."


'Frightened? It's unbelievable!'

Image caption Richard Slater and his family hid in a shop's cupboard for two-and-a-half hours

Fourteen-year-old Bronwyn Slater was in the sea with her mum when the gunman began firing.

"We just heard these sounds like bang, bang, bang bang. We just proper ran to my dad. It were terror and shock and sorrow. Then I had to proper sprint for my life really, to survive," she told the BBC.

The three of them ran to a shop where they hid in a cupboard for two-and-a-half hours, listening to gun shots and hand grenades being detonated on either side of them.

It must have been frightening, said BBC Today presenter John Humphrys. "Frightening? It's unbelievable. It's shocking as well and terrifying really," said Bronwyn.

Listen to the full interview on BBC Radio Four's Today programme


'I hid in hotel laundry'

Image caption John Carter said he just felt "numb" after the attack ended

One survivor has spoken about how he was hidden in a hotel laundry room by hotel staff.

John Carter, who was on holiday with his wife Lynn, ran into his hotel's kitchen area after hearing gunfire and was hidden in the laundry room.

Mr Carter, from Hull said he lost sight of his wife after stopping briefly to urge an older man to run.

"Then there were big explosions and then gunshots," he said.

"You didn't know what was going on, and you just saw some legs under where we were hid and they were shouting at them to get in with us, and then someone fell on top of me and it was my wife."


'We thought it was the end'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption'We thought it was the end' - Mark Barlow and Becky Catterick on hiding from the gunman in Tunisia

Couple Becky Catterick, 19, and Mark Barlow, 24, from Scunthorpe were protected from the gunman by local shopkeepers.

Miss Catterick said: "We didn't want to say goodbye, but he just kept getting closer so we just all told each other we loved each other."

"We thought it was the end," Mr Barlow added.


Staff 'prepared to take bullets'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionJac Randell, from Cardiff, was on holiday in the resort of Sousse with his partner Hollie Nicklin

Jac Randell, from Cardiff, was on holiday in the resort of Sousse with his partner Hollie Nicklin when the gunman opened fire on Friday.

Mr Randell said they ran from the attacker expecting to get shot in the back.

"Hotel staff formed a line of protection around the hotel. They were prepared to take the bullets for us. You can't thank them enough," he said.


'I kissed my wife goodbye'

One British tourist in Tunisia, whose name was only given as Danny, took refuge under a table with his wife, hearing ''guns and grenades and explosions'' around them.

''I hid under a table and kissed my wife goodbye, thinking that was going to be the end'' he said.

Listen to his story


'They're inside - run'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionOlivia Leathley: "Hundreds of people were running screaming from the beach"

A couple from Manchester told the BBC that the gunman was "killed about 400 yards" from where they were hiding.

Olivia Leathley, who was on holiday in Sousse, said she saw "hundreds of people running and screaming from the beach," before she managed to hide with her boyfriend, Mike Jones, in a small security lodge.


'Everyone was running'

Image caption Melanie Callaway fled barefoot when she heard gunshots on the beach

Melanie Callaway, 45, from Hedge End, Hampshire had just been in the sea with her friend Paula Gill, 48, when the shooting started.

"It was absolutely manic - people were just screaming 'run for your life', 'get off the beach - just run'. It was like a tsunami film where everyone was just running up the beach towards their hotels.

"We had a five-minute run up the footpath with no shoes on," said Mrs Callaway.

The pair barricaded themselves in their room in the Royal Kenz Hotel for five hours with a mattress pushed up against the door.


'Run, there's a gun'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDebbie Horsfall: ''My friend saw the terrorist holding a gun and just shouted 'run - there's a gun'"

Debbie Horsfall was on holiday in Tunisia and flew back on Saturday morning. She described to the BBC how her friend noticed the gunman, and raised the alarm by shouting ''run, there's a gun''.


'We feared for our lives'

Image caption Graeme Scott (second left) with his parents Jen and Sid and cousin Karl (far right)

Graeme Scott, from Irchester, Northamptonshire, was in the Hotel Imperial Marharba with his parents Jen and Sid and cousin Karl when the Tunisian beach attack happened.

"We were laying by the pool and suddenly there were gunshots - what I thought were gunshots - but dad turned round and said 'it's fire crackers'.

"I said 'no dad it's gunshots, we have got to go'. So we all got up... and we just headed towards the foyer of the hotel.

"We just wanted to get safe somewhere.

"There was about 20 of us in the cellar room with the door shut just for safety and we had to just keep quiet.

"We just feared for our lives."

Listen to the full interview with BBC Radio Northampton


'Pandemonium'

Image caption Robert and Wilma McKenzie have told about their distress when they realised people were dead

Belfast couple Robert McKenzie and his wife, Wilma, had just come out of the sea when the gunman opened fire.

The couple were staying at a hotel about 300 yards from where the shooting happened.

Mr McKenzie said "pandemonium" broke out.

"Everyone was running. I hadn't heard any gunfire," he said.

"If they had come to our section of the beach, we'd have been wiped out because we always lay right at the front of the beach... and wouldn't have had a chance, quite honestly.

"By the grace of God, it didn't happen to us."


Related Topics