Christmas joy turned to tragedy for two lifelong friends from Burnley who were seconds from disaster when they cheated death at the Berlin Christmas markets terror attack.
Elle Davies and Jade Armitage were enjoying a short break in the German capital when a lorry ploughed into a stall, just yards from the pair, killing 12 people.
The 26-year-olds, close friends from school days at St Joseph’s Park Hill and St Hilda’s RC High, have described their terrifying ordeal in the market at Breitscheidplatz.
Dental nurse Elle, from Ightenhill, said: “I had been pestering Jade to come with me to Germany because I know how famous it is for the Christmas markets.
“We took an early flight on Monday. The market was the first place we went out to in Berlin. We’d been there about two hours when I saw a grey hut which had nice Christmas decorations in.
“We were in the hut when all of a sudden there was this massive crash. Someone started shouting get out. We then saw this lorry had crashed into a chip stall next to our hut and completely flattened it.
We were in the hut when all of a sudden there was this massive crash.Elle Davies
“When I first heard the bang I thought it must have been a terrorist attack but when I saw the lorry I thought it may have been an accident, until Jade said it was similar to what happened in Nice.
“I didn’t see an bodies, but just one man with a cut head. We were obviously very shaken up and so went for a drink in an Irish bar. It was only when we saw it on the news in the bar when we realised how serious it was. It just didn’t seem real.”
Elle described how the pair’s mobile phones soon became inundated with text and Facebook messages from worried friends and family back home.
Strangely, it was not the first time that Elle had come close to a terrorist attack. She visited Paris a week after similar attacks in the French capital.
Terror group Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the latest attack, but Elle said it would not put her off travelling to Europe again.
She added: “My philosophy is that you have to live your life. You can’t worry about the unknown. Being so close to this, though, has definitely made me appreciate my friends and family more. I’m going to try to have a very good Christmas.”