Lockerbie children's distress continues

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE HORROR of the Lockerbie air crash has re-emerged in the dreams, drawings and waking hours of the town's children. Psychiatric assessment for compensation claims - for nervous shock or psychic injury - on 121 children and teenagers aged from 15 months to 17 years has revealed significant problems.

The assessment team has found evidence of 'intrusive thoughts and feelings, traumatic dreams about planes crashing and bodies falling from the sky and particularly a high rate of distress following reminders of the sight, sounds and smells of the crash'.

All passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground, including three children, died when a jumbo jet exploded over the town four days before Christmas 1988.

Re-enacting the crash has rarely been expressed in the children's play but drawings during interviews 'often incorporated planes, crashes and the fireball', Professor William Parry-Jones said in a report yesterday to an international conference on children and death, organised by Nursing Times, in Edinburgh.

The assessment team from Glasgow University's department of child and adolescent psychiatry also found considerable evidence of emotional symptoms. Children under 10, particularly, demonstrated a loss of acquired skills, regression and new fears. 'They showed such symptoms as bed-wetting, thumb-sucking . . . and loss of self-confidence.'

Concentration difficulties were also found among school-age children and 'substantial evidence of children being startled easily and upset by loud noises'.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was found in 66 per cent of the 54 children who made a claim for compensation one year after the crash.

In a second group of 67, who claimed two years after the disaster, 56 per cent had active PTSD and in 12 per cent the disorder was in remission.