THE wife of a father-of-four who survived the bloody Algerian hostage crisis in the Sahara last night spoke of her relief that he is safe and well.
Peter Hunter, 53, from Durham City, was one of the hostages held by terrorists before a final assault by Algerian special forces ended the four-day crisis in a hail of bullets.
He had been working as a construction manager for JV Gas with British Petroleum in North Africa when Islamic militants struck last week.
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The stand-off turned into a bloodbath when Algerian soldiers stormed the gas plant after reports the terrorists had begun executing their captives.
Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday that three British nationals have died and three more are feared dead following the shoot-out at the the In Amenas complex.
Mr Hunter was among the hostages who managed to scramble to safety and last night he was safely back on British soil in London while his family wait for him to return to the North-East.
Speaking from her home in Durham City his wife, Kerry Hunter, 42, said: “The children are devastated by what has happened, but we are happy he is safe.
“He is in London and we just all want him home now.”
The family of 29-year-old oil worker Darren Matthews, from Loftus, in east Cleveland, who managed to flee the plant also spoke of their relief.
In a statement released through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, they said: “We have been extremely worried about Darren and we are pleased and relieved to learn that he is safe and well. We look forward to having him home soon.”
It is understood Mr Matthews was working for British Petroleum as an engineer.
Dave Fitzpatrick, landlord of The Station Hotel in Loftus, who is also a Redcar and Cleveland councillor, said: “All we have heard is that he is home safe and everybody is very happy about it. We assume he is very happy to be free.”
The North-East men are among 22 Britons who survived the crisis and are now back in the UK.
Algerian authorities said that 23 hostages and 32 captors were known to have died but that those figures were expected to rise.
Algerian officials said the extremists belonged to a new Islamist group formed by a veteran Algerian militant and kidnapper, Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
The crisis began on Wednesday when terrorists attacked two buses carrying foreign workers to the remote site in south-eastern Algeria.
The In Amenas gas field is situated at Tigantourine, about 25 miles south-west of the town of In Amenas and 800 miles south-east of Algiers.