Lockerbie disaster 30 years on: people share their memories of Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy

Lockerbie disaster 30 years on: people share their memories of Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy
Copyright AP
By Rachael Kennedy
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On the 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing, those affected by the disaster take to social media to share their stories.


Memorials across southern Scotland were held on Friday to mark the 30th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people, including all 259 passengers and crew, and 11 people on the ground in the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

The 1988 attack is the UK's deadliest terrorist incident. 

Many took to social media on Friday to share their memories, painting a solemn picture of the disaster's scale. 

Pan Am employees

Mikki said she was a check-in agent for Pan Am in 1988 and reminisced of a "normal happy day" going to work in the lead-up to Christmas.

"But little did we know nothing would ever be the same again," she wrote. "I remember it as though it were yesterday."

The passengers who missed the flight

One Twitter user, Melanie, spoke of her aunt, uncle and cousin, who were booked to fly on Pan Am flight 103 but changed at the last minute to catch a later departure.

"The relief of that," she wrote on Twitter. "But the horror of all those murdered innocents, their families and residents will never be forgotten."

The emergency service workers

Posts by those working in the emergency services at the time of the crash shared poignant stories, ranging from being on standby for incoming patients to being involved with the subsequent investigation.

First responders

First responders involved in the immediate call-up and subsequent investigation spoke of the harrowing work they had to undertake.

Superintendent Richie Adams said he "left Livingstone that night to do what little we could in horrific circumstances".

"Memories of that time have been with me since and I'm reflecting greatly upon those today," he said.

Another Twitter user spoke of his mother-in-law, a police officer, whom, he said, was traumatised by the incident.

"She couldn't hear the world Lockerbie without being instantly back there smelling the flesh and such like," he said.

James Bertram said the Lockerbie bombing was his first incident as a member of the voluntary police sector.

"I will never forget what I saw at Lockerbie or the families of those involved," he wrote. "It changed my life and career."

A member of the military search and rescue team, Pete Tuit, said the anniversary of the bombing would be a day of remembrance as it had every year before.

"What we saw and did never leaves me. It is engraved on my memory and will stay with me until I die," he wrote on Twitter. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing at the main impact site. It was more like a war zone.

"We were 40 miles away from the town and still finding bodies, wreckage and personal effects.


"I'd never seen anything like it previously and there was nothing that prepared us for what we saw. I can still see it vividly in my mind today as it was 30 years ago. Some of my colleagues suffer every year at this time due to it."

The hospital staff

Doctors and nurses alike shared similar accounts of their preparations for incoming casualties, only for it to slowly dawn on them that there was no one to treat.

Trisha Elliot, who was a junior doctor in 1988, said her hospital had received a call to confirm it would be accepting diverted patients in order to relieve pressure from other hospitals dealing with the "hundreds of casualties expected" from the Lockerbie crash.

"None ever came," she said.

Scottish MP Peter Grant shared the story of his wife, Fiona, a junior doctor at the time, who had volunteered to travel to Lockerbie to help.


"They phoned back a wee while later and said thanks, but there were 'very few casualties to be treated.' We knew exactly what that meant."

MSP Emma Harper, an operating nurse at the time, had also received the call to standby. She spoke to Euronews about the calm, methodical approach the staff took in preparing their operating theatres for expectant arrivals.

"It was interesting because after working in Los Angeles in a trauma centre when you got a phone call about a trauma coming in, it would come in minutes," she said in a phone call with Euronews.

It started to get "a bit worrying".

"We waited, and we waited. None came."


Locals passing the scene

Many people living in the local area shared their devastation upon realising what was unfolding in the small Scottish town.

Twitter user Annie B said she and her husband were driving through Scotland when they saw the ongoing investigation into the crash site.

"I'll never forget seeing dozens and dozens of markers over the surrounding areas where debris was found, as well as helicopters going to and front the crash site.

"Definitely a memory I can't erase."

Another Twitter user, Gregor Smith, said he wasn't aware what he was witnessing when he saw a long line of ambulances pass him.


"30 years ago, I walked across a bridge in Uddingston as a long line of ambulances passed underneath heading south on M74," he wrote.

"Later, I found out why. I've often wondered what went through those crews' minds during that journey."

Friends and families of the victims

And 30 years after the tragic incident, families and friends of the victims began to post in remembrance of their loved ones.

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