A UNIVERSITY worker feared she would be shot dead as she hid in the cellar at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris to escape Friday’s massacre.
Christine Tudhope, 34, a public relations officer at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, and friend Mariesha Payne were in the city for the Eagles of Death Metal concert.
The pair, who arrived back in Edinburgh yesterday, scrambled for cover as a hail of bullets killed at least 89 people. Trapped in their hiding place, they heard the thud of the bodies hitting the floor overhead, explosions and the screams of the dying.
Ms Tudhope initially thought the gunfire was the sound of firecrackers, but then Ms Payne, 33, saw bullets hitting the stage.
Speaking as they arrived from Paris at Edinburgh Airport, Ms Payne said: “A second round went off, most people ducked, but I just said ‘run, just get out of here’.
At one point, a big military guy patted me down and said, ‘You can cry now - you’re safe’Mariesha Jack
“In the confusion, if we had gone left we would have instantly been out on to the street and probably the first people out of the building, but we ran right and ended up being in a room that we couldn’t get out of.
“There were no exits but we found a door to the cellar, which we just ran into, but then realised we were trapped and there was no way out of there.
“A few seconds later the door burst open and we just thought, ‘they’re coming, we are going to die’.
“We managed to barricade ourselves in, turn the lights out and we were then trapped there for the next three hours just having to listen to what was happening.”
The friends said they thought they would never get out alive, and were “sitting there waiting to get shot”.
Although they did not think it at the time, they said being trapped in the cellar was “a blessing”.
They only realised their ordeal was finally over after rescuers told them: “You can cry now – you’re safe.”
The pair sat silently in the dark, crushed into the cramped space for three hours, terrified that if they moved, drinks crates would have toppled and given them away.
Ms Payne, a mum-of-two from Perthshire, said she feared she would never see her children again.
At one point one of the killers walked past the door, warning police over the radio that there were hostages.
Meanwhile, city landmarks including the Castle and the Usher Hall have been illuminated with colours of the Tricolour in a show of solidarity with France.
Hundreds of people, including many from the French community, attended a service in Edinburgh to remember the victims of the Paris terror attacks.
Rev Calum MacLeod led special prayers at St Giles’ Cathedral yesterday for those affected by the attacks which have claimed at least 129 lives, injuring hundreds more.
The congregation, including Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Emmanuel Cocher, the Consul General of France, observed a minute’s silence.
Mr Swinney described the service as a “solemn moment” to reflect and remember Friday’s tragedy, adding: “What I want to say to people from France who are with us in Scotland, is that our hearts are breaking for them.”
The service was held as the First Minister chaired the Scottish Government’s second resilience meeting to discuss the response to the attacks.