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The Survivors: They missed the flight by just three minutes

She was waiting for her 13-year-old and 14-year-old children at Las Palmas airport when she heard about the crash in Madrid.

With scores of dead, the woman, identified only as Lilit, feared the worst and became one of the many people anxiously gathering for news of their relatives, hoping they would be among the reported survivors. But then, as details became clearer, she was told by journalists that her daughter and son, Clara and Enrique, had not been on the flight and had taken another plane. Overcome with relief that they had survived, she broke down in tears.

A couple from the Canary Islands told a similar story: their lives were saved because they missed the flight by just three minutes. The man, identified as Héctor, said that he and his girlfriend were heading home at the end of their holidays. He said that when they arrived at the check-in desk, they were told that the flight had closed. Annoyance turned to overwhelming relief on realising what had happened.

Another passenger, identified only as Goretti, said she had nearly bought a ticket for the flight, but opted for a cheaper one and was on her way to the airport when she saw the flames.