THE wife of a North East oil worker in Algeria faced an anxious wait to confirm he was safe - even after he'd been rescued.
Peter Hunter, 53, from Durham, hid for more than three days after terrorists stormed a gas plant near the town of In Amenas last Wednesday, killing 37 foreigners.
But events happened so fast that he had no chance to ring wife Kerry, 41, and tell her that he was OK. And even when he was eventually freed by the Algerian military, police in the UK told her not to necessarily believe a call in which he told her he was out of harm’s way.
“I just assumed he would have told me if there was something the matter,” said Kerry, who received a text from her husband on the Wednesday relaying little of the drama unfolding nearby. Then the family started phoning saying something terrible was happening in Algeria and was Peter OK?”
The father-of-four said he always intended to follow up his message with one to say he was all right, but the phone network failed shortly after the attack began and he was unable to call.
“All along I just thought ‘he’s going to be OK’,” said Kerry. “The phone never stopped ringing, but I thought ‘one of these calls I’ll pick up and he’ll be on the other end’.”
On Saturday morning Algerian forces rescued the BP contractor, and gave him a satellite phone to ring home – but even then the worry was not over for his family.
“I knew he wouldn’t sound great but when I spoke to him he didn’t sound himself,” said Kerry.
“And police said not to read too much into the call because he might have had someone behind him.
“That panicked me a bit, but then I thought he’d never allow himself to be forced into it.
“Yet then there was an intervening period where I just didn’t know.”