By Lori Bredemeyer, Copy Editor
A vacation in Spain had a frightful end for four students last week when 10 bomb-loaded backpacks exploded in Madrid train stations during rush hour.
The students, studying abroad in Oxford, had traveled to Spain for a 10-day trip. On March 11, they boarded a train headed for Madrid at 6:45 a.m.
The trip should have taken almost four hours, but down the tracks in Madrid, the first bomb exploded at 7:39 a.m. and the last at about 7:42 a.m.
The four sophomore women-Elizabeth Canarsky, communication major from Lincoln, Neb.; Katie Noah, English major from Midland; Marcela Gutierrez, management major from Honduras; and Jenny Travi, psychology major from Bishopville, Md., were accompanied by Travi’s fiancZ. Noah said the group awoke whenthe train stopped.
A man in their car was receiving numerous phone calls, and he told them what had happened.
“We weren’t really scared at the time-just sad,” Noah said. “Our first reaction was to look at each other in disbelief and shock. … We started to pray.”
Noah said she could not help but think of Sept. 11, 2001, and “all the confusion and sadness of that day,” when terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people in the deadliest attack on American soil.
“We prayed for the families who had lost loved ones, the rescue workers, the police, even the people who did the deed,” she said. “When things like this happen, our only recourse is God.”
Recent reports count 201 people dead and more 1,500 wounded. Canarsky said the group eventually took taxis into the city, whose atmosphere had turned gloomy.
“The city was so sad,” she said. “There were not very many people out, and it was pretty silent. They immediately had tons of black ribbons hanging everywhere.”
She said most stores and businesses closed, and thousands of people attended demonstrations.
“People did not seem to be in a panic,” she said, “although I could sense an overall air of tension. It was definitely a relief to leave the city.”
Noah said the citizens’ reactions reminded her of American reactions after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“The people of Spain seemed to be pulling together to stand against terrorism, just as Americans had after 9/11.”