Tunisia terror attack: Spanish couple escaped by hiding in cupboard

Mar 20, 2015, 20:03 IST | IANS

Madrid: Spanish couple Cristina Rubio Oltra and Juan Carlos Sanchez Benlloch escaped the attack which claimed the lives of 23 people in a Tunisian museum by hiding in a store cupboard for almost a day, a media report said on Friday.

The couple, who were married on March 8, were finally rescued by the police after an ordeal lasting 23 hours, Xinhua reported, citing the Spanish media.

"They told me they spent 23 hours locked in a dark room, while they listen to shots, explosions, footsteps and conversations in Arabic," Cristina's father, David, told the Spanish El Pais newspaper.

The couple's ordeal lasted longer than necessary because they were unable to understand the words that were being spoken outside of their hideaway and as a result, "they didn't know if it was terrorists or police officers who were talking”.

“They had a dreadful time," David said.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo explained that although the bodies of Juan Carlos and Cristina had not been discovered in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, "we couldn't be sure they hadn't died".

Meanwhile in their hideaway in the cupboard, which was full of clearing equipment, the pair had turned off their mobile phones in case any noises should reveal their presence and as a result several calls from their families failed to get through, only increasing worries about their safety.

The ordeal ended when they were discovered in a police search and taken to hospital, where a scan showed that Cristiana's unborn child was unharmed, although she was unable to take any tranquilisers due to her pregnant state.

Juan Carlos and Cristiana are due to be flown home on Friday to be reunited with their families, but Tunisian Health Minister, Said Aidi, revealed on Thursday that they will take something positive away from their ordeal.

"They promised to call their baby 'Tunis'," he told a local radio station.

An attack on the National Bardo Museum in Tunisian capital Tunis on Wednesday left 23 people dead and over 50 others injured. The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

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