Friday 28 April 2017

All 30 British victims in Tunisia beach massacre identified - final death toll

A man prays after laying flowers on the beach in Sousse, Tunisia, where 38 people, including three Irish tourists, were killed in a terrorist attack
A man prays after laying flowers on the beach in Sousse, Tunisia, where 38 people, including three Irish tourists, were killed in a terrorist attack

The final death toll of British tourists in the Tunisian beach massacre is 30, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said as the process of returning bodies to the UK continued.

"We now have all 30 British victims positively identified and we can say with a high degree of confidence that is now the final death toll of British nationals killed in this incident," Mr Hammond said.

Another nine victims will be repatriated today, with further flights tomorrow and Saturday.

Eight Britons killed in the terror attack were brought back to British soil yesterday.

Confirmation that 30 of the 38 killed by Seifeddine Rezgui in the resort of Sousse last Friday were Britons came as the Tunisian government said it had arrested 12 suspects.

Investigators are still hunting for accomplices believed to have helped the Islamic State (IS) fanatic.

According to Tunisian officials, he trained at a Libyan jihadist camp at the same time as the two gunmen who attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis in March, killing 22 people.

The Tunisian health ministry announced yesterday that it had identified 30 British victims - three Irish, two German, one Belgian, one Portuguese and one Russian.

Mr Hammond - who said last night police needed more time to formally identify one of those killed - has now confirmed that as the UK death toll.

Two of 39 injured people being treated in the area had been discharged, the health ministry added.

Wounded Britons - including four with severe injuries - have already been brought back to the UK for treatment at hospitals in Birmingham, Oxford, Plymouth and London.

Relatives of Rezgui's victims will once again gather at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire later to watch their coffins arrive on a C17 military transport aircraft and be transferred to hearses.

Read more: British death toll in Tunisia massacre expected to double to at least 30

"We will be repatriating another nine bodies today, and there will be two further repatriation flights tomorrow and Saturday," Mr Hammond said.

"Tomorrow is also a week from the date of the attack, and we will be holding a minute's remembrance at noon across the UK as well as in British embassies and posts around the world."

Among those repatriated yesterday was the youngest known victim, Joel Richards, 19, who was killed alongside his uncle Adrian Evans and his grandfather Patrick Evans.

Joel's brother Owen, 16, survived the attack.

Also on the flight was the body of Carly Lovett, 24, a fashion blogger from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, who reportedly survived the massacre on the beach only to die when a grenade was thrown into her hotel.

The bodies of engineer Stephen Mellor, 59, from Bodmin in Cornwall, killed as he shielded his wife Cheryl on the beach, and John Stollery, 58, a social worker from Nottinghamshire, were also flown back, as were former Birmingham City football player Denis Thwaites, 70, and his wife Elaine, 69.

The other British victims include: John Welch, 74, and his partner Eileen Swannack, from Wiltshire; Christopher and Sharon Bell, from Leeds; David Thompson, from Tadley, Hampshire; Chris Dyer, from Watford; Trudy Jones, of Gwent, south Wales; Lisa Burbidge, from Gateshead; Philip Heathcote, 52, from Suffolk; Sue Davey from Staffordshire; Scott Chalkley from Derby; Claire Windass from Hull; Bruce Wilkinson, 72, from Goole, East Yorkshire; Jim and Ann McQuire, from Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire; Stuart Cullen, 52, from Suffolk; Billy and Lisa Graham, from Perthshire; John Stocker, 74, and his wife Janet, 63, from Crawley.

The Irish victims were Lorna Carty, from Robinstown, Co Meath, and Laurence and Martina Hayes, both in their 50s, from Athlone in Co Westmeath.

Downing Street said that two Scottish victims of the massacre are among the nine bodies being returned to the UK today.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney was expected to be present at RAF Brize Norton for the repatriation, along with Home Office minister James Brokenshire.

Whitehall officials were meeting this afternoon to consider the continuing UK response to the attack.

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