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Norwich UEA student narrowly avoided visiting Christmas market targeted in terrorist attack due to delayed flight

PUBLISHED: 09:53 21 December 2016 | UPDATED: 16:44 21 December 2016

UEA student Megan Baynes and her partner James Harwood at a Christmas market in Berlin.

UEA student Megan Baynes and her partner James Harwood at a Christmas market in Berlin.

Archant

A Norwich student has told how a delayed flight caused her to avoid a Christmas market targeted in a suspected terrorist attack.

Megan Baynes, 23, who studies at the UEA, flew into the German city on Monday for a festive break with her 25-year-old partner James Harwood.

The young couple had initially planned to visit the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market, where 12 people were killed in a suspected terrorist attack that night.

But they made a last minute decision to go to one closer to their hotel in Spandau after their plane arrived two-and-a-half hours late.

Miss Baynes, who is staying in the city until tomorrow, said the atmosphere in the city had become more “tense” following the attack.

She said: “We were there [a different market] from about 6pm to 8.30pm, which was around the same time as the attack, but we had no idea what was happening as our phones were switched off.

“When we got back to the hotel we then started getting messages from people asking if we were okay. Initially I did not take it seriously, but my partner’s mum phoned and she was in a total panic.

“It was only after more information came in that it was a terrorist attack that I thought it was a bit more serious. I’m trying not to think about the fact that we could have ended up there.”

Since the attack, the American literature and creative writing student said there was an increased police presence outside every embassy and some roads had been blocked off.

“I would say it’s definitely quieter than what we would expect from a European capital right before Christmas,” she added.

German police are now hunting for the perpetrator of the truck attack after the only detained suspect was released on Tuesday.

Police believe more than one suspect may be on the run, possibly armed, and security has been stepped.

“I am fairly concerned”, Miss Baynes said. “Although I am trying not to think about the fact that the suspect is still loose in the city.

“It is not the sort of Christmas getaway I had envisaged and it is heartbreaking, because it was families just doing what we were doing.

“We just got lucky that we were at a different place, and I am grateful for that.”

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