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Irish tourists who witnessed Tunisian attack describe the harrowing experience

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Witnesses to the horrific rampage speak of the harrowing experience
Witnesses to the horrific rampage speak of the harrowing experience

Witnesses to the Tunisian terror attack have described the harrowing experience after returning home from the north African country.

Thousands of holidaymakers have fled Tunisia following a tragic terrorist attack, in which at least 38 people were killed, including three Irish people.

Some of those who departed have come forward to describe the harrowing experience of being caught up in a violent terrorist rampage. 

Joining Mark Cagney and Sinead Desmond on Ireland AM this morning were three Irish tourists who witnessed the harrowing attack but managed to make it home unharmed. 

Marian King from Lucan, along with Anthony and Betty Tunstead from Ballymun, appeared on the morning show to discuss their experience. 

Describing the moment they realised there was an attack, Marian said: "We locked ourselves in there [the bathroom] for over an hour, I would say and we just stayed really, really quiet because we could hear people in the corridor and we could hear a lot of men’s voices, lots of different languages. 

"We thought that there was gunmen in the corridor and to be truthful, we were expecting them to come through the door."

Marian was staying at the Riu Belvue Park Hotel which neighboured the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel where the shooting to place. She was holidaying with her children and her partner Bob.

They were delayed getting to the beach on the Friday morning and when they approached the lobby a women came running towards them shouting “Go back to your rooms, my husband has been shot”.

Shortly after, she saw a human stampede coming towards them. They ran down the corridor, towards the rooms where she and her children ran into a friend’s room, followed by a Tunisian lady and then a British couple. 

Also sharing their terrifying account of that day were Anthony and Betty Tunstead.

They were staying at Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel where the shooting took place and where they made friends with Athlone couple Laurence (Larry) and Martina Hayes, who were callously murdered during Friday's rampage. 

When the shooting took place they hid in a room. Anthony checked to see what was happening and just as he was looking out onto the beach, the gunman appeared.

"This is the bit now that really gets me and sometimes I get a bit emotional about it. What happened was, it had quietened down a lot because it had all really happened on the beach and then he walked his way up.

"When you’re in the room, you practically freeze to death because you don’t know how many there are. It turned out there was only one guy. I personally think there was two. When it quietened down, I left the room and went out on to the landing. We were on level two and it was open. The whole area was open and you could look down on to the reception area.

"I was just looking across and then this guy came from nowhere, running and jumped up on a barrier. He couldn’t get in eye contact with me because he had to jump down off the parapet."

"The part that gets to me really is that when I went out to the balcony, if he had have saw me first and I didn’t see him at all, he [would have shot me]. There was no doubt about it. Of course, immediately, I backed off and ran back into the room."

Betty described Larry as gregarious and explained how they had grown fond of the couple during the week:

"Larry was just different. She [Martina] was a lovely lady, very quiet but loved the company."

Ireland AM’ airs Monday to Friday from 7am – 10.00am on TV3.

Click here to watch the full ‘Ireland AM’ interview.