Sunday 25 February 2018

Irish workers caught up in Las Ramblas horror attack

People react in the area where a van crashed into pedestrians at
Las Ramblas in Barcelona on Thursday. Photo: Reuters
People react in the area where a van crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

Sorcha O'Connor

A young Irish woman told how her friend was almost run over by the van that wreaked terror in the centre of Barcelona.

Lauren Smyth (21), from Mullaghbawn, Co Armagh, is working in the city for the summer.

One friend witnessed the van driven by the terrorists swerving and ploughing into pedestrians, narrowly avoiding being hit himself as the driver swerved in the opposite direction.

Others were kept in a nearby restaurant by police for their own safety.

"I was luckily working on the beach promoting when I received a text from my friend who was promoting on Las Ramblas," she said. "We looked up and all the police were fleeing from the beach as that is where one of the stations is based. I ran back to my apartment and saw people screaming, shouting and running."

Aisling Rohan, from Baltray, Co Louth, is au pairing in the town of Corbera De Llobregat, 18km from Barcelona. As she headed into the city centre on Thursday, she found herself stranded in the aftermath.

"I was on the bus when I got an emergency alert, something to do with a car crash, at that stage there was no mention of terrorism," she said.

It was while on the metro she learned it was a terrorist attack.

"I was very nervous. It was chaotic, and very, very tense. I headed to the language school I study at, thinking it would be safe."

But the area had been evacuated and cordoned off, and Ms Rohan decided to try to make her way back out of the city.

As she stood waiting, policemen appeared, and told all passers-by in the area to put their hands on their head.

"It took a long time to get out of the city, we waited for the bus for about an hour and a half."

Another Irish resident in Barcelona Eoin Corcoran (32), from Cork, teaches English in the city and said that while the city was "sombre", life was going on as normal yesterday.

"I left the house about two hours ago, I live about 10 minutes from Las Ramblas. It feels like normal life. I went to the gym earlier, and there's lots of people around - it's what you have to do, I suppose. It is a bit more sombre, people are saying how sad they are," he said.

Irish Independent

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