Eyewitness: 'We were putting five or six at a time into ambulances'

Mark Chilton, 45, a former army corporal, who was drinking at Charlie's Tavern, near the Na'ama Bay car park where the third of the bombs exploded on Saturday morning, said the Egyptian emergency services had been "totally overwhelmed" after the two earlier bombs at the Ghazala Gardens Hotel and in the old market area of the city.

He said that, after hearing what he realised was a major explosion elsewhere in the city he went out of the bar "a well known haunt of divers and instructors" - with the proprietor. After going back in the bar, shouting to everyone to pick up their bags, and establishing the bar itself was clear, he went outside again.

"I went back out and I was on my phone to my fiancé telling her there had been an explosion in Sharm but that I was OK. I was walking towards the taxi rank when a bomb went off. You could feel the shock wave of the explosion. I shouted at my fiancé 'I'm OK but I've got to go'.''

Mr Chilton, who served in the Royal Signals for 10 years and is qualified in first aid, said that, after getting someone to help an Egyptian walking towards him "who had a big hole in his arm" he turned the corner "and saw the carnage in front of me. I counted seven or eight bodies".

He said he went to a woman also lying on the ground. "She spoke English but I don't know whether she was English. She was a bit incoherent. One of her legs was missing and her face was black and burnt."

He said: "I was grabbing people out of the crowd to stay with people who were hurt as I went round. What we were doing wasn't really first aid, it was triage, trying to sort out who should go in the ambulance first."

He said the bar's proprietor and two British holidaymakers who were paramedics helped in the operation, during which they commandeered a truck to take the wounded to hospital.

"We were putting five or six at a time in the ambulance. I found a taxi with the keys in and drove it to where the injured were so someone could take them to hospital."

Mr Chilton added: "I did what I'm good at doing. I've got a loud voice and I am decisive about what I want people to do." He said he did not know whether suggestions that the bomb had been left in a sack by the attacker who then ran off, were true. "There was a man lying on the ground who had no torso, from his chest to his thighs. Either he had been very close to where the bomb went off or perhaps he was the bomber."