An Earby couple have spoken of their “frantic” scramble to safety as the Tunisian terror attack unfolded in June.
Paul Rouse (42), of Victoria Street, and Carole Milburn (40), of Victoria Road, were in Sousse enjoying their first holiday abroad together when the gunman struck last month, killing 38 people in total, 30 of them British nationals.
But their “holiday of a lifetime” soon turned to a nightmare when the couple were bundled to safety into a launderette by Tunisian locals amid loud gunfire and people screaming and running for their life.
The couple then hid in a backroom for five hours until it was safe to come out. A relieved Paul and Carole flew home on Sunday, June 28th, two days after the attack on the Friday.
Paul said: “It was just frantic. I thought it was the end because I could not see a way out.”
Carole said: “People were screaming, it was just so frightening. I was really scared, I’ve never been so frightened in my life.”
The couple had gone into town from their hotel and were just yards away from the Hotel Imperial Marhaba where the attack took place on the beach.
Paul said: “We were really excited about the holiday and were enjoying the week. In fact, I’d put on Facebook that it was becoming the holiday of a lifetime.
“I had heard about the attack in Tunisia in March but didn’t know much about it. My brother had been to Tunisia last year and said it was lovely so we had no issues about going there.
“The first time I thought something was wrong was when our taxi driver was talking, animated, with another one.
“Then people started running so I grabbed Carole.
“We could hear the shouting. The gunfire was very near. We rushed into the launderette. We could still hear people crying and screaming and could see people running past.
“I spoke to my mum on the phone, she was shopping in Skipton. She was absolutely shocked. I just said to her I would keep her informed.
“I was shaking. I was struggling to use my phone because my hands were trembling so much.
“I think what was worse was that we could follow what was happening on the news on a TV.”
Paul and Carole came out from hiding hours later when it was safe to emerge, and went back to their hotel. They found what had been a happy, holiday atmosphere was totally the opposite.
Paul said: “It was a bit calmer but everything was in lockdown. There was nowhere open and a really sombre atmosphere around the town. Nobody wanted to talk. It was horrible.
“The Tunisian people were so good. They saved us. They were really apologetic, saying sorry for what had happened, but I just kept saying there’s nothing to apologise for because it’s not their fault.”
Carole said: “My heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones in this tragedy. It’s so sad.
“I also feel so sorry for the Tunisian people who were so friendly and helpful.”