British holidaymakers have told of their fear at being caught up in civil unrest in Tunisia and their relief at escaping from the strife-torn country as they arrived back safely in the UK.
Up to 1,800 tourists are being airlifted home to airports across Britain after their holidays were cut short by the troubles, with some comparing the scenes on the streets of the North African country to a war zone.
The travellers were enjoying winter sun breaks when tour operators ordered them to leave on advice from the Foreign Office. Some had been in Tunisia for only a matter of hours.
The evacuation came as buildings were set on fire and property looted as protesters defied an overnight curfew. During the chaos more than 1,000 prisoners escaped from two jails and 42 inmates were killed.
As he stepped off Thomson flight 965 at Manchester Airport, Adam Wallace, 22, said: “When we went to the airport today it was a bit unnerving. There were police stood on the corners of roads and groups of people hanging about. It did feel a bit intimidating.”
Ross Wiseman, from Sunderland, was less than 36 hours into his holiday when he and his family were brought home.
“Going about the streets before the curfew there were smashed windows, burned out cars, just one big mess really,” he said.
“On the journey to the airport there were armed soldiers on the streets and that was intimidating. You could see the snipers on the top of buildings with their guns pointing down on us.”
Birmingham University student Johnny Davis, 23, flew out with a friend on Wednesday to start their holiday but they were flown back to the city on Saturday.
Mr Davis said: “On Thursday evening there was a rolling protest with cars and about 500 people hanging out and beeping the horns. But last night it seemed to escalate and we heard what we think was gunfire throughout the city and that was going on all the way through to the early hours of the morning.”