Pair relive horror of suicide bombing
TWO former Essex teachers have relived the horror of falling victim to the deadly suicide bombings in Riyadh.But Barry and Jean Hynes, who are back visiting family and friends in the country, have vowed the terrorist attack will not deter them from returning to Saudi Arabia.
By Sharon Asplin
TWO former Essex teachers have relived the horror of falling victim to the deadly suicide bombings in Riyadh.
But Barry and Jean Hynes, who are back visiting family and friends in the country, have vowed the terrorist attack will not deter them from returning to Saudi Arabia.
Thirty-five people, including nine bombers, died in the attacks on compounds housing westerners on May 12. The US and Saudi authorities blame the al-Qaeda network for the bombings.
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In an interview with the Great Bentley Parish News magazine, Mr Hynes, a former Clacton IT teacher, explained how, after the attack, he had to lift smashed patio doors off his wife, who was lying bleeding across the bed.
Fortunately, Mrs Hynes escaped with cuts and bruises.
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Mr and Mrs Hynes, who live in Frating, have been working as teachers in The British School, Riyadh, since January 2000.
Both knew they were going to a world with a vastly different culture and to an area which was susceptible to Islamic fundamentalism, but during their first year there was not the remotest hint of trouble.
However, the need to be vigilant became ever more apparent after September 11 and when a British employee of BAE – whose wife worked at the same school - was shot and killed, the school management decided to move the UK contract staff to an elite compound where the school was situated for greater protection.
On May 12, Mr Hynes awoke to see his wife, a former teacher at Great Bentley Primary School, looking out of the patio windows and remarking on "unusual noises – like fireworks but not quite".
These turned out to be the firing of automatic weapons as the bombers burst into the compound.
Mr Hynes said: "The sky erupted and lit up in what I can only describe as the most spectacular yet monstrous firework one can ever imagine. It was accompanied by the loudest and dullest of bangs.
"I saw Jean laid across the bed, literally framed in the patio doors with sharp shards of glass pointing inwards from the frame all around her. There was a considerable amount of blood on the sheets.
"She spoke quietly but in obvious shock, and described the places that hurt – her hand, head and foot. I was more concerned about the large pool of blood coming from her side."
He shouted for help but soon realised it would not be immediately forthcoming. Mr Hynes then carefully lifted the smashed patio doors off his wife.
"Fires were raging, presumably as cars exploded, and bloodied people were walking in a complete daze. I went towards the centre of the wreckage and was aghast at the extent of the destruction of buildings. I now knew it was not the school, but that a huge car bomb had exploded far closer to our apartment."
The emergency services were inundated with casualties and Mr Hynes and some helpers managed to fashion a stretcher from a wardrobe door and take Mrs Hynes to the ambulance. In hospital she received stitches and treatment for cuts and bruises.
"It can be little short of a miracle that of all the teachers who lived very close to this bomb, Jean was the worst hurt," he said.
The homeless group of people, with the help of school maintenance staff, cleared out the best three or four apartments and slept in large groups the following night. Arrangements were then made to fly the UK staff home.
The Hynes are now spending the summer visiting friends and family in Britain, including spending time at Great Bentley.
"At the moment we do intend to return to Riyadh," said Mr Hynes. "Some might consider this a strange decision but, bomb apart, we have many happy memories of our time there."