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Wednesday 22 May 2019

Three children of Denmark's richest man among 290 killed in Sri Lanka attack

The Bestseller company owner Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne in a file photo. Photo: Ritzau Scanpix/Jonas Olufson via REUTERS
The Bestseller company owner Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne in a file photo. Photo: Ritzau Scanpix/Jonas Olufson via REUTERS

Denmark's richest man Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife lost three of their four children in the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, a spokesman for Povlsen's fashion firm said on Monday.

The spokesman declined to give any further details but Danish media said the family had been on holiday in Sri Lanka.

A string of bombings at churches and luxury hotels across Sri Lanka killed 290 people and wounded about 500 in Sunday's attacks. A senior investigator said on Monday that seven suicide bombers had taken part in the attacks.

Povlsen is the owner of fashion firm Bestseller, which includes brands like Vero Moda and Jack & Jones, and is the majority stakeholder in online retailer Asos while also holding a big stake in Zalando.

He owns more than 1 percent of all the land in Scotland, according to Forbes.

He and his wife Anne hold an estimate 200,000 acres of the Scottish Highlands, and had planned to rewild the landscape to preserve it for future generations, according to a Guardian report from earlier this year.

Jesper Stubkier, communications manager for Mr Holch Povlsen's wholesale fashion business Bestseller, said the couple had lost three children in the Easter Sunday attacks.

He told the Press Association on Monday: "I can confirm that three children have been killed.

"We have no further comment and we ask that the family's privacy is respected at this time."

He declined to comment on the identity of the children or whether other members of the family had been visiting Sri Lanka.

It is also unknown in which of the series of blasts they lost their lives.

According to Forbes, Mr Holch Povlsen has a net worth of 7.9 billion US dollars

Read more: Sri Lanka imposes emergency powers, says international network involved in attacks

British woman Anita Nicholson and her two children have also been confirmed dead in the wave of terror attacks that hit Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

Mrs Nicholson's husband Ben was the only member of the family to survive the blast at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo - one of seven locations targeted by terrorists.

Local media reported Mr Nicholson desperately searching for his wife and children Alex, 14, and Annabel, 11, after the explosion.

It had been believed that Alex may have survived, but Mr Nicholson confirmed on Monday afternoon that all three were killed.

The family had been visiting Sri Lanka for a holiday from their home in Singapore.

Mrs Nicholson was a lawyer for mining and metals company Anglo American, while Mr Nicholson is a partner with law firm Kennedys.

Mr Nicholson said in a statement: "Following reports in the media over the past 36 hours, my family and I wish to confirm that my wife Anita, our son Alex, 14, and our daughter Annabel, 11, were killed in the bombing of the restaurant of the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, on Sunday morning while sitting at our table. Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering.

"I am deeply distressed at the loss of my wife and children. Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children.

"The holiday we had just enjoyed was a testament to Anita's enjoyment of travel and providing a rich and colourful life for our family, and especially our children.

"Alex and Annabel were the most amazing, intelligent, talented and thoughtful children, and Anita and I were immensely proud of them both and looking forward to seeing them develop into adulthood.

"They shared with their mother the priceless ability to light up any room they entered and bring joy to the lives of all they came into contact with."

Mr Nicholson thanked medical teams at General Hospital in Colombo for assisting him after the attack, as well as the British High Commission and holiday company Adhvan Tours.

"Anita, Alex and Annabel leave behind a large extended family and many close and cherished friends who are now grieving this tragic loss. We shall all miss them dearly," he said.

"We are all grateful for the many expressions of support and good wishes. We would ask that the media now respect our privacy and allow us to grieve together."

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