Relieved NI holidaymakers tell of lucky escapes
Holidaymakers returning from Salou expressed relief as they arrived at Belfast International Airport yesterday after armed police swamped the popular tourist spot in the aftermath of multiple terror attacks in Spain.
Many passengers disembarking flights from Reus had been holidaying in Salou, where Barcelona is a popular choice for day trips.
The resort is also less than five miles from Cambrils, where five terrorists were shot dead following a second attack in which one person was killed and five others injured on Thursday evening.
Brian and Maureen Crockard from Finaghy believe they had a lucky escape by choosing to visit Barcelona earlier in the week.
"We were going to go on Thursday, but thank God we ended up changing our minds and going on Tuesday instead," they told the Belfast Telegraph.
"We spent the day shopping in Las Ramblas. It's such a busy street and it's scary to think we would have been there when it happened if we had chosen to go on Thursday - it's crazy".
The couple, who said there were people in their hotel who missed being caught up in the attack by minutes, decided to stay in their room on the last night of their holiday due to the "awful atmosphere" in Salou.
"It definitely put a downer on the holiday. There were less people out and a lot of police on the streets - if we weren't already coming home the next day I think we would still have come home," they added.
"We couldn't get any English news in the hotel room so we were trying to pick up what we could and relied on hotel staff translating it for us."
Mr and Mrs Crockard only started going on foreign holidays three years ago and are now divided on whether or not they will continue travelling abroad.
"I said to my husband last night 'it would make you think twice about going anywhere, maybe we should stick to holidaying at home'," Maureen explained. "I didn't live through 45 years of the Troubles to get killed by terrorists in Spain."
But husband Brian remained defiant.
"It bothers you, you can't help but feel for the people caught up in it but you can't let it hold you in, either," he said.
Maureen said they had ruled out France as a destination due to terror fears and felt safer returning to Spain.
"I don't think you are safe anywhere at the minute," she added.
Kevin and Mairead McLaughlin, from Londonderry, said they were "shocked but not surprised" as they watched scenes of the atrocity unfold on TV.
"It left us more than a wee bit on edge," they explained.
"We noticed a lot of armed police outside last night and it made us feel very uneasy, it was the fact that they hadn't captured the terrorists that was worrying because they could have turned up anywhere.
"We're not surprised that it happened and although we're relieved to be home it won't put us off going back again."
One defiant couple who were spared from being caught up in the carnage by their two children vowed to return.
"We were going to go to Barcelona on Thursday but the kids were adamant that they wanted to stay by the pool," they explained. "We're very thankful for that, but we will go back."
Another woman with a broken wrist expressed gratitude for the injury she sustained which stopped her from going on a scheduled trip to the Catalan city on Thursday.
One man who was in France a week before the Nice truck attack on July 14 last year and in London just before the London Bridge attack on June 3 said he "isn't shocked in the slightest" by the latest terror attack "but would I want to be there now, probably not".