Cambridge student leapt from window to escape burning building from

The Survivor
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The Independent Online

A Cambridge University student last night told how she escaped from the burning hotel struck by the crashing Concorde by jumping from a first-floor window.

A Cambridge University student last night told how she escaped from the burning hotel struck by the crashing Concorde by jumping from a first-floor window.

Alice Brooking, a languages undergraduate at Selwyn College, said she would have died had she not leapt from her room at the Hotelissimo in Gonesse the second she realised there had been a disaster.

Ms Brooking, 21, who was working for a schools tour company and was waiting to welcome a group of students from Suffolk, described how she was alerted by the sound of an approaching aircraft growing louder by the second.

Speaking at the British Embassy in Paris, she said she had been on the phone to her 24-year-old sister, Nathalie, in London. "It was the first plane I had heard since arriving just minutes earlier. I had just put my bags down and called Nathalie when the plane took off. At first it just sounded like a normal take-off. But then it got louder and louder and the floor began to shake. I said: 'My God, what's that?'"

Ms Brooking said she had not heard an explosion. "I went to my door and opened it, but there were just flames everywhere. That must be when I got burned," she said, holding up a bandaged left hand. "I slammed the door shut and just leapt on to the bed and across the room."

The student, from Hildenborough, Kent, saw a receptionist from the hotel standing below. He told her to jump and she leapt from her window and ran barefoot across the grass to the N17 highway nearby.

She said: "There was just smoke and debris everywhere, and I inhaled some smoke. It was like being in an oven. I ran to some motorists and they shouted: 'It was Concorde, it was Concorde.'

"It wasn't a miracle, I was just very lucky. I'm just sorry for the people who weren't."

Nathalie, a financial software specialist who had flown to join her sister, described the moment when their phone call came to an abrupt end. She said: "I knew something terrible had happened as soon as the phone went dead. The noise was deafening, like thunder or an earthquake or a lorry crashing into the building. I tried ringing her back, and then there was nothing. I just shouted "Alice, Alice'."

Alice, who spoke in English and French, said she had not slept since she fled from the hotel. "I won't be going to a hotel or getting on an aircraft for a while."

Her parents, Hugh and French-born Francine, both 50, earlier said they had feared their daughter was dead - only for Alice to call within 10 minutes to say she was safe.

Francine, whose sister Edith Hocquet was yesterday looking after Alice at her home in the St Maur suburb of Paris, said: "We are enormously, indescribably relieved that Alice is alive." The couple plan to fly to Paris tomorrow to be with their daughter, who was one of 12 people to emerge alive from the blazing Hotelissimo.

French police confirmed that two of the four people killed in the 40-room hotel when flight AF4590 crashed on Tuesday were Polish hotel workers. Two other Polish women who did not turn up for work at a nearby hotel yesterday are thought to have been killed.