NI woman recalls horror of being on Las Ramblas as Bareclona terror attack unfolded

Shari Butcher pictured by a no vehicles sign on Las Ramblas shortly before the attack on Thursday
Shari Butcher pictured by a no vehicles sign on Las Ramblas shortly before the attack on Thursday
  • Co. Londonderry couple recount moment van ploughed through crowds in Barcelona

A Northern Irish woman who was just feet away from the terror attack in Barcelona has spoken of the terrifying moment she fled from the carnage.

Mother-of-three Shari Butcher was on holiday in the Spanish city with her husband Danny when a van ploughed into crowds at the famous Las Ramblas on Wednesday.

Shari and Danny Butcher, from Limavady, fled from the attack on Las Ramblas, Barcelona

Shari and Danny Butcher, from Limavady, fled from the attack on Las Ramblas, Barcelona

Thirteen people were killed and more than 80 were injured in the carnage, which was carried out by the Islamic State terror group.

Minutes before the attack at Las Ramblas, the couple from Limavady, Co Londonderry had been taking in the sights at the packed tourist hot spot.

Shari told the News Letter: “We had just sat down and ordered a drink at a cafe when we heard a really loud bang.

“At first my husband thought it was a car crash, then people started running towards us and screaming and armed police ran past us blowing whistles.

Las Ramblas after the attack on Thursday

Las Ramblas after the attack on Thursday

“I knew straight away it was a terrorist attack, just from the look of sheer terror on the faces of the people running towards us.

“Danny stood up and saw some people lying on the ground. We had no idea what was going on.”

The pair joined the masses of other terrified people fleeing from the carnage.

“I made sure to stay in cover behind trees, as I was worried someone was going to start shooting at us,” Shari added.

Police officers stand next to the van involved on an attack in La Rablas in Barcelona, Spain, (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Police officers stand next to the van involved on an attack in La Rablas in Barcelona, Spain, (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

“I kept thinking of what happened in London, where the attackers ran around with knives stabbing anyone they came across. Danny shouted at me not to panic, but I was absolutely terrified.”

The couple made it back to their hotel unharmed and locked themselves in their room.

“I checked the news for what had happened and just couldn’t believe it,” Shari said.

“There were families with young children walking along that street. It makes me sick to my stomach.

Shari and Danny Butcher

Shari and Danny Butcher

“I didn’t get much sleep that night and cried a lot. It was a truly horrendous experience.”

The couple are due to fly home this evening.

South Armagh woman Alana Fearon was also caught up in the terror attack.

Alana, a journalist from Camlough, told RTE she had seen tourists starting to run down the middle of the busy shopping street.

“We started to get really, really panicked,” she said.

“All of a sudden a police car came up with police shouting through a megaphone: ‘Indoors, indoors’.

”All I can see is cordons, sirens, police, helicopters.”

Meanwhile, a five-year-old Irish boy suffered a broken leg when his family was caught up in the terror attack.

The boy’s father also sustained leg injuries.

The father and son were part a family of four, including the mother and a daughter, and are understood to have been on a trip to celebrate the boy’s birthday.

The mother and father are understood to be from the Philippines and are naturalised Irish citizens. They hold dual citizenship and the children were born in Ireland.

Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs is assisting the family.

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney, said: “They are not life-threatening, I’m relieved to say.

“But in a way it’s a miracle that more Irish people weren’t involved, given that there are so many Irish people in Spain, Barcelona and Cambrils at this time of year.”

Political leaders in Northern Ireland have expressed revulsion after the attack.

DUP leader Arlene Foster Mrs Foster tweeted her solidarity with the injured and the forces of law and order.

She posted: “Horrific scenes. Barbaric act.”

Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill said: “The horrific attack in Barcelona was an appalling and indiscriminate slaughter of men, women and children.

“The scale of the devastation caused is heart-breaking.

“It is sickening to think that people deliberately set out to kill and maim people who were simply out enjoying a summer evening in one of the world’s most beautiful and welcoming cities.”

Alliance Party deputy leader Stephen Farry said it was important to stand together across Europe against those who sought to undermine open and diverse societies.

“In doing so, we must respond in a manner that defends these values that are so under threat.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said it was terrible news.

A book of condolence was opened at Belfast City Hall today and was signed by Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister. It will be available for signing in the main reception of the City Hall during normal opening hours.