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Neighbors Tell of Being Jolted out of Bed by ‘Blitz’ Blast With PM-Britain-Blast

September 22, 1989

DEAL, England (AP) _ Neighbors were breakfasting, heading to work or asleep in bed when an explosion at a military barracks turned their homes to rubble and they were confronted with the sight of bodies being carried away.

″There was a terrific crash which reminded me of the Blitz. After that, the ceiling started to fall down around me,″ said Joan Betteridge, a pensioner in the southern England town of Deal, where the blast at the Royal Marines School of Music occurred.

The Irish Republican Army claimed reponsibilty for the explosion, which police said killed 11 people and injured 22.

Nearby resident Sean Minnock said: ″I was asleep but woke up with a hell of a jolt ... the bedroom ceiling fell in on me. I woke to find huge slabs of plaster on the bed and floor.″

From the wrecked, smoke-clouded barracks, ″I could hear terrified screams of agony. People started rushing about all over the place. It was horrible to watch and listen to,″ said Minnock, 28.

″I knew people had been seriously hurt. I saw the rescuers pull out two bodies. I knew they were dead when they put them on the floor and put bed blankets right over them.″

Minnock’s wife, Janet, said the roof of their house was torn off and all the back windows were shattered.

″The house has been blown to bits,″ she said.

Mrs. Minnock was feeding her 2-year-old son Thomas his breakfast when the explosion wrecked four terraced houses in the street backing onto the barracks.

Her next-door neighbor, Heather Hackett, 26, was standing at her kitchen window facing the barracks, holding her 4-month-old son Luke in her arms. Her other boys, Ben, 3, and Joshua, 2, were at her side.

″I looked up from the sink and I just saw the whole building explode,″ she said. ″I told the boys to run and as Joshua turned a sliver of glass embedded itself in his back.

″The whole window was blown across the kitchen. I just screamed and ran out of the room. The bang was so loud I thought the whole house was coming in.

″At first I thought for sure Joshua had been seriously injured. There was blood coming out of his back.″ Doctors removed the glass and sent him home.

College student Simon Mitford, 17, narrowly escaped being injured in the explosion because he got up earlier than usual.

″His room was completely wrecked by the blast,″ his brother Alex said.

Of the barracks, he said: ″I heard music playing and then it went bang and there was glass everywhere. It was a two-story building but now 90 percent of it is rubble.

″I heard a marine scream out, ‘The band is under there.’ I was scared there was going to be a second explosion.″


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