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Dartford teacher Richard Gregg describes horror of Barcelona attack

By Chris Hunter

A drama teacher has described how tourists fled the scene and police flooded the streets in the aftermath of the Barcelona terror attack.

Dartford man Richard Gregg and his boyfriend were just moments away from being caught up in the horrifying scenes yesterday, when a van driver ploughed into a crowd of people, killing 13 and injuring 100.

The 46-year-old from the Phoenix Quarter estate in Dartford today described how he had attempted to get back to his apartment in the aftermath of the attack.

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Police near the seen of the attack. Picture: Richard Gregg
Police near the seen of the attack. Picture: Richard Gregg

"We made our way through the back alleyways to where we were staying because we couldn't get up Las Ramblas because of the people moving in the other direction," he said. "When we got to the road where we were staying we were literally level to where the van had come to an end.

"We could see people on the floor, we could see them being attended to and the police were starting to flood the side streets, on foot and on motorbikes. We now know they were obviously looking for the driver of the van.

"Everyone was starting to panic a little bit. As we walked down the street there were groups of people running away from Las Ramblas, quite distressed. Police were in and out of all the side alleyways. We realised this was more than just a car accident and there was fairly major event going on. Helicopters started flying overhead."

Mr Gregg and his partner eventually made it back into his apartment, and stayed inside while police cordons were set up in the surrounding area.

They remained there until this morning, when they were able to make their way out of the city to see friends.

"The whole mood of the city was fairly on edge, fairly tense, but most places were closed and shut down," he added. "Bars that were open were very very quiet.

"This morning Las Ramblas was very busy - there's lots of international news crews there, but also a lot of tourists, a lot of public out walking down, although the mood is much quieter than it has been for the last few days. Placa de Catalunya is fairly deserted apart from the news crews and there's a very heavy police presence."

Police have since shot dead and killed five suspects in a linked attack in the coastal town of Cambrils, south-west of Barcelona, and reports today suggest an 18 year old has been arrested as the suspected van driver in the Las Ramblas attack.

"Its horrific what's happened in Las Ramblas, it's literally a street where there is no escape for pedestrians" - Richard Gregg

But Mr Gregg said the events would not force them to abandon their holiday.

"We're due to come home on Monday. We're planning to stay in Barcelona until then," he said. "We feel as safe as you'd feel anywhere. I guess at the moment there's such a heavy police presence now that we feel fairly secure."It hasn't put us off travelling and it hasn't put us off coming to places like Barcelona. At the end of the day these events can happen anywhere, you can never mitigate against them. You can never predict where they're going to be.But he added: "Its horrific what's happened in Las Ramblas, it's literally a street where there is no escape for pedestrians. There are roads either side with big pedestrian avenue down the middle. With the van coming down at speed there would be nowhere to run."It's just absolutely horrific."We're just really grateful that we were two minutes later than the attack. Two minutes earlier we would have literally been headed to the exact spot where that van ended and could well have been victims."

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