Leeds couple relive narrow escape from Tunisia beach massacre

Hayden Disley and Frankie Clarke
Hayden Disley and Frankie Clarke
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A young couple from Leeds who narrowly avoided being caught up in the Tunisia beach massacre told how they feared they would die as they ran for their lives.

Hayden Disley, 19, and Frankie Clarke, 18, dashed for cover as gunman Seifeddine Rezgu went on a killing spree that left 38 people dead on Friday.

The couple, who had up to that point enjoyed an “amazing” holiday in the North African country, hid for more than two hours as shots rang out nearby.

Back at home in Leeds, Miss Clarke said: “I thought, I’m going to die, I’m going to die. I thought he was in the hotel.

“I don’t think I’ve come to terms yet with how close we were.”

Mr Disley said: “It still doesn’t feel real. It’s so sad for those people who died. It could easily have been us. We’re very lucky.”

Miss Clarke, of Scholes, and Mr Disley, of Crossgates, were staying in the El Mouradi Palm Marina hotel – on the beach front next to the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba, where Rezgui went on a rampage that killed more than 30 Britons.

They were five days into a week-long holiday when the attack happened.

Having been for breakfast and a walk along the beach, they went inside to get out of the heat when the shooting started.

Miss Clarke, who finished studying A-levels at Notre Dame College this year, said: “We looked up and thought ‘what the hell?’. There was just a swarm of hundreds of people running towards the hotel with a look of absolute fear on their faces.”

Leeds Beckett University student Mr Disley added: “I didn’t know what was going on, it was like there was a tsunami coming.”

They were told that a man had been firing a gun, but the gravity of the situation didn’t stop some people filtering back out of the hotel before Rezgui threw a grenade into a crowd.

Miss Clarke said: “That’s when I started getting really scared. People just told us to run.”

The couple were holed up in their room when Rezgui was finally shot dead by police.

“I opened the balcony doors and you could just hear repeated gunshots and that’s when he got killed,” Mr Disley said.

The couple returned on their scheduled flight on Sunday but Miss Clarke said she felt sorry for the Tunisians they left behind.

“They were so amazing to us,” she said. “I want to get across to people that Tunisians aren’t terrorists, you can’t generalise. We can get away , but they have to live there with the fact that this happened in their town.”