UK

Tunisia attack: Tributes for dead as British tourists fly home

A boy arranges candle lights on a fence in front of the Hotel Imperial Marhaba in Sousse, Tunisia Image copyright EPA

Tributes are being paid to victims of the Tunisia beach attack which left 38 dead, including at least 15 Britons.

No British victims have been officially identified but the names of some were confirmed by friends and family.

It comes as the relatives of others still missing since the gun attack near Sousse desperately await any news of their loved ones.

More than 1,000 British tourists have returned to the UK, while it is thought 2,500 more could fly home on Sunday.

Read the political responses to the attack here

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Theresa May has chaired a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee.

Peace rally

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered close to the scene a day after the attack for a rally against terrorism, with some holding candles and others carrying flags of the UK and Tunisia.

Further details have been emerging about the tourists who lost their lives in the shooting carried out on Friday by gunman Seifeddine Rezgui, 23, who has links with Islamic State.

It was described as the most significant terrorist attack on British people since 52 were killed in the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

Three members of the same family were among those killed in the attack.

Among those so far confirmed dead by family or friends are:

  • Carly Lovett, 24, a beauty blogger and photographer from Gainsborough in Lincolnshire who was first to be named
  • Sue Davey and her partner Scott Chalkley, both in their 40s, whose deaths were confirmed by their respective sons
  • Adrian Evans, 44, from Tipton, West Midlands, his father, 78-year-old Patrick Evans and nephew Joel Richards, 22, from Wednesbury. Bruce Wilkinson, 72, from Goole in Yorkshire
  • Lisa Burbidge, in her 60s, from Whickham, Gateshead
  • Irish national Lorna Carty, who was in her 50s and from Robinstown in County Meath
Image copyright AP
Image caption People shouted "Peace" and "Sousse will never die" at a protest against terrorism on Saturday
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Tourists gestured peace signs from inside a bus as demonstrators took part in the rally
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The candlelight rally was held to express solidarity with those affected by the attack

One Belgian and one German have so far been identified among the dead, the health ministry said. There were also thought to be Tunisians and French killed in the attack.

At least 36 people were injured, some seriously.

The UK government has warned the death toll will rise in the Tunisia attack.

There have also been suggestions from authorities around the country that some of the deceased will come from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Image caption Carly Lovett, Adrian Evans and Joel Richards, left to right
Image caption Sue Davey and Scott Chalkley
Image copyright Photo from facebook
Image caption Lorna Carty

Adrian Evans, from the West Midlands, was described as popular by his long-standing employer.

"Adrian was a lovely man. I've already been inundated from members of the council and other officers offering condolences to the family, said Darren Cooper, leader of Sandwell Council, where Mr Evans worked.

"He was well liked. He worked with us for a very, very long time and it's frankly only just sinking in."

Joel Richards, a student at the University of Worcester, was described as a "talented" local football referee, who had "the world at his feet".

"He was highly thought of and will be sadly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this tragic time," added Birmingham County FA.

Mr Richards's 16-year-old brother Owen is reported to have survived the attack.


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Walsall FC said the three men were fans of the club, and tweeted that those fellow supporters who wished to could lay scarves at the stadium from Monday.

Tributes were also paid to couple Sue Davey and Scott Chalkley, whose sons had taken to Twitter in the aftermath of the attack in a bid to find them.

Ms Davey's son Conor Fulford, posting on Twitter on Saturday night to confirm the death of his mother, said: "Love you always Mom, I've got my teddy bear you got me tonight, Rest easy xxxx"

Mr Chalkley's son Ross Naylor wrote: "I want to say thanks to everyone who has helped, you have all been amazing. One love to all and rest in peace dad."

Image caption The beach area where the attack happened reopened on Sunday, the BBC's Mark Lowen says
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tourists came to place flowers on Saturday

Other relatives of those still missing continue to face an agonising wait for information.

Daniel Welch, from Swindon in Wiltshire, has not heard from his grandfather John Welch, 74, and his partner Eileen Swannack, 70, since the attack.

He said the hardest thing was "not knowing", adding: "We are at a bit of a loss and we can only expect the worst."

Image caption John Welch and his partner Eileen Swannack

The family of Denis and Elaine Thwaites, from Blackpool, Lancashire, are appealing for information about their whereabouts.

The retired couple, aged 70 and 69, arrived in Sousse on Wednesday and had been staying at the Marhaba.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Denis and Elaine Thwaites

Their son-in-law Danny Clifford said news the family had received telling them Mr and Mrs Thwaites were in hospital was proved to be misinformation. "We are absolutely frantic," he added.

Simon Boon says he saw his sister Allison Heathcote on news channels being stretchered off the beach on a sunbed, but he had had very little information from the Foreign Office, and had instead had to rely on news websites and phoning hospitals in Sousse to find out what happened.

She had received two gunshot wounds, had undergone surgery and was now critical, he said.

"My brother-in-law - we still have no information. Nearly 48 hours on, we're none the wiser."

Home Secretary Theresa May told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme that Foreign Office staff faced problems in getting accurate information to those families in the UK trying to trace relatives in Tunisia.

"Because of the circumstances of the attack, people won't have had documents with them, they won't necessarily have had mobile phones with them," she said. "Some people are being moved between different hospitals."

And she also said the Foreign Office's advice about travel to Tunisia had not changed, but that risks were being highlighted in relation to Saturday's attack.

Family detained

The UK government warned further terrorist attacks in Tunisia, including in resort areas, were possible, "including by individuals who are unknown to the authorities".

The BBC's Ben Brown has tweeted that 1,000 extra police are being deployed to protect Tunisian tourist resorts.

And the BBC's Mark Lowen says the beach area at Sousse where the attack took place has now reopened.

Rezgui, a Tunisian student, began his attack on tourists at noon. He had been posing as a swimmer but carrying a rifle under a parasol.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSimon Boon spoke to the BBC about seeing news broadcasts of his injured sister being stretchered off the beach

Rezgui shot at people on the beach near the Imperial Marhaba and Bellevue hotels. He then entered one of the hotel lobbies, where explosives were also detonated.

He then walked through the streets of Sousse where he was reportedly chased by local Tunisians, firing shots at them.

It has also been reported that local builders threw rubble down at him from rooftops as he passed by in the street. The attack eventually ended when he was shot dead by police.

It previously emerged that the gunman was not known to the authorities beforehand.

His parents, sister and close friends have been detained by the Tunisian authorities.

Image copyright AP
Image caption An image published on sites associated with Islamic State purported to show the Tunisian gunman

Many of the tourists in the affected hotels have left the country or are waiting for specially arranged flights - others said they would stay, however.

Thomson and First Choice said some 5,400 of their customers remain in Tunisia, with up to 2,500 expected to return to the UK on Sunday.

An additional 11 Thomson flights as well as one third-party flight with Nouvelle Air are currently due to leave later.

Some holidaymakers decided not to take earlier flights to allow others to leave first.

Laura Hepple, from Runcorn, who escaped the gunfire by hiding in a hotel bathroom, said: "We had a flight booked for Sunday anyway and we decided we would stick with that, have the last day of the holiday.

"[We're] probably [in] the safest place at the moment with armed guards around and... let the people with families who're actually got another week left to take the earlier flights."

Travel developments

Image copyright Reuters
  • All Thomson and First Choice holidays to Tunisia for the next week have been cancelled
  • Jet2.com and Jet2holidays also cancelled flights and holidays to Tunisia up to July 5. It sent two planes to pick up passengers who wished to return on Saturday and two more are scheduled for Sunday
  • EasyJet said customers who booked to travel to Monastir in Tunisia within the next 14 days could have a free flight transfer on any date and on any route, or a flight voucher
  • Thomas Cook sent flights to repatriate people, and although the hotels involved are not offered by the firm, the company said it was supporting its customers at other resorts
  • Holidaymakers elsewhere in the country are advised to contact their tour operator and follow any instructions issued by local authorities
  • The Foreign Office is advising people in the area to keep in touch with their tour operator and follow advice from Tunisian security authorities

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