More Tunisia victims repatriated


Published: Thursday 2nd July 2015 by The News Editor

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An operation to bring home the bodies of Britons killed in the Tunisian beach massacre is continuing, six days on from the terror attack.

Relatives of eight victims of gunman Seifeddine Rezgui gathered at RAF Brize Norton yesterday to see their coffins carried off a military transport aircraft by armed forces personnel.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the other 22 would arrive back in the UK “over the coming days”.

So far 29 of the 38 who lost their lives at the resort of Sousse on Friday have been formally identified as Britons – with police still seeking to confirm the identity of one more also believed to be from the UK.

Adorned with white flowers, the coffins of Adrian Evans, Patrick Evans, Joel Richards, Carly Lovett, Stephen Mellor, John Stollery, and Denis and Elaine Thwaites were the first to arrive in the UK.

“All of our injured are home and all bar one of the 30 who we believe are British have now been positively identified,” Mr Hammond said.

“The first RAF flight to repatriate the bodies of those killed in the attack returned eight of the victims to their loved ones. The remaining bodies will be flown back to Britain over the coming days.”

The names of more of the victims have continued to emerge.

John Welch, 74, from Corsham, Wiltshire, and his partner of eight years, Eileen Swannack, 73, regular visitors to the beach resort, were among those killed.

Wounded Britons have already been brought back to the UK, with four severely-injured holidaymakers flown home. They are being treated at hospitals in Birmingham, Oxford, Plymouth and London.

Among the four is Allison Heathcote, 48, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, who was celebrating her 30th wedding anniversary when she was gunned down.

She was shot repeatedly in her stomach and shoulder and was pictured shortly after the attack in her pink bikini lying immobile on a sun lounger as hotel staff tended to her wounds.

Her husband Philip, 52, was killed in the terror attack. She has undergone surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she is in a critical condition.

Tunisian authorities are questioning several suspected associates of Rezgui, who had links to the terror group Islamic State (IS).

They have said he acted alone during the rampage but had accomplices who supported him beforehand, providing him with weapons and logistical support.

Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi said an investigation was under way into security failures and armed tourist police would be on beaches.

A minute’s silence will be held in memory of the victims at noon tomorrow, marking a week since the outrage. Flags are expected to be flown at half-mast over Government departments and Buckingham Palace.

Published: Thursday 2nd July 2015 by The News Editor

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