A Derry man who returned home with his wife and young children for a family funeral today described their shock at being evacuated during a fire bomb attack on the Everglades Hotel.
Brian McDaid and his family, who lives in Africa, had just arrived back yesterday ahead of the funeral today.
Mr McDaid said that around 15 other relatives were also staying in the hotel last night.
“It just before midnight when it happened,” he said. “The children were in bed. The fire alarm or signal went off, and at first I thought nothing of it, just thought it’s probably a false alarm and someone will turn it off.
“Then it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, that there was some genuine reason why the alarm had been sounded.
“We heards a lot of movement outside, and what can you do, you just have to stay calm and get out of there.”
The family, their relatives and other guests, were gathered and led out of the hotel, and later evacuated across the river to the City Hotel in the early hours.
Other people who had been in reception described how a man had run into the hotel and dumped a bag on the counter.
He was wearing a bandana over his mouth and told the receptionist ‘you have half an hour to evacuate’.”
Mr McDaid said staff and guests had been left stunned by what had happened.
“There were some children who were quite upset,” he said.
The family were unsure if they would be allowed back into the hotel to collect their clothes for the funeral, which is due to take place this afternoon.
Police said the reception area at the Everglades was badly damaged in the blaze after the fire bomb exploded as army technical officers approached it in the early hours of this morning.
The attack may have been linked to a forthcoming police recruitment event at the Everglades, although no definite motive has yet been established.
A press conference is due to be held at the hotel later this morning.