Egypt killings: Son tells of premonition that his parents were doomed

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The Independent Online
The families of the six British victims of Monday's Luxor massacre struggled to come to terms with their grief yesterday, while hundreds of tourists cut short their holidays to fly home to safety. Clare Garner hears stories of panic as holidaymakers fled from a resort that had become a battleground.

An elderly British couple killed in the Luxor massacre were urged by their son not to go to Egypt, it emerged yesterday. Paul Wigham told how he had had a "sixth sense" that his parents should not take the trip down the Nile, but that they had not heeded his warnings. Egypt was a country they had always wanted to visit.

"I felt it was too risky after the turmoil," explained Mr Wigham. "I spoke to them at length but they seemed to treat it as a joke. They seemed to think there was more chance of being knocked over on the road or involved in a plane crash. They said it was just the same thing in Egypt as over here."

George and Ivy Wigham, of Swanley, Kent, had flown to Egypt last Friday. Their two-week tour of the country was a way of celebrating Mrs Wigham's completion of seven years of study for an Open University degree.

Paul Wigham, 45, of Colliers Wood, south London, said his parents, Mr Wigham, 69, a production manager and Mrs Wigham, 71, a secretary, had always dreamt of going down the Nile. "It was quite a romantic idea but we don't know if they managed to do it," he added. Now he is haunted by the image of his parents' final moments. "I just get the same pictures of my mother and my father having to kneel down while someone machine- gunned them to death," he said.

The other victims were Shaunnah Turner, five, her mother, Karina, 24, and Karina's mother, Joan, of Ripponden, West Yorkshire, and Sylvia Wilder, 26, an air hostess based at Gatwick Airport, who held joint British and Bulgarian nationality.

Travel companies moved swiftly to evacuate surviving Britons. A fleet of aircraft flew to Egypt in the morning to begin an airlift of hundreds of holidaymakers in case of further attacks.

The first group arrived at Heathrow at 12.30pm. Forty of the 100 British pensioners travelling with Saga Holidays had been staying near the scene of the massacre in the popular Luxor site.

Margaret Goatley, 58, of the Isle of Arran, in Scotland, described the panic as tourists tried to flee the country. "There was a lot of confusion; we really didn't know what was going on." she said.

"It was really frightening. We packed our bags in less than an hour to get ready to come back to Cairo in time to catch the plane today."

Terry O'Brien, 71, of Limerick, Ireland, said on landing: "It was a very grim atmosphere in Luxor; most people felt very scared and upset.

"It turned from a stunning resort to a battleground and none of us knew what was happening, it was all so confusing. No one would want to stay with such danger hanging over them.

"But I hope it won't put people off going there, because it just wouldn't be fair on the rest of the country," he added.