British air crash victim traced to burns unit

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH WOMAN presumed dead after a Dutch DC-10 crashed at the Portuguese airport of Faro nine days ago has been discovered alive and in a stable condition in a hospital in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Nicola Gunner, aged 32, was among 340 passengers on board the charter jet which split in two on landing on 21 December. Her mother Barbara and sister Sarah were both killed in the accident but Ms Gunner survived despite suffering 65 per cent burns.

After the crash Ms Gunner was reported missing and assumed to be among the 54 dead. But on Sunday, six days after the disaster, she was traced by her dental records to the burns unit of Rotterdam's Southern hospital.

It has since emerged that emergency services flew Ms Gunner from Portugal to the Netherlands on Christmas eve, in order to give her the latest medical treatment in a burns centre. Dr Han Boxma, medical director at the Rotterdam centre, yesterday said she was unconscious but in a stable condition on a ventilator. 'She has extensive burn injuries and in the long term we cannot say what the final outcome will be.'

The Gunners intended to spend the Christmas break together in a self-catering apartment on the Algarve. But their plans went wrong when the DC-10 that they had boarded in Amsterdam crash- landed in severe weather.

Ms Gunner works for the British Council in Budapest, Hungary, where she teaches English. A spokeswoman said: 'She is a highly valued member of the team.'

A memorial service for the victims of the Faro disaster will be held in Amsterdam this afternoon.