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29 British massacre dead identified

Published 01/07/2015

Tourists look at flowers that have been laid on the beach near the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia
Tourists look at flowers that have been laid on the beach near the RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia

All but one of the 30 Britons believed killed in the Tunisian beach massacre have been formally identified, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said after the first bodies were repatriated to the UK.

Speaking after chairing a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee, he said the others would be brought home "over the coming days".

Relatives wept and comforted each other as the C-17 military transport aircraft, which left Tunis airport earlier today, landed at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The coffins of Adrian Evans, Patrick Evans, Joel Richards, Carly Lovett, Stephen Mellor, John Stollery, and Denis and Elaine Thwaites were adorned with white flowers and were carried off the plane by members of the armed forces.

They were among the 38 people shot dead by student Seifeddine Rezgui, 23, at the beach resort of Sousse on Friday.

"I can confirm that the number of Britons killed in the Tunisia terrorist attack who have been positively identified has now reached 29," Mr Hammond said.

"One victim now remains who we believe is British but police require further time to confirm the identity.

"All of our injured are home and all bar one of the 30 who we believe are British have now been positively identified. 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 repatriation process of all the victims is expected to take a number of days.

More of the 30 Britons who died were named today as tributes continued to be paid to those killed.

The family of John Welch, 74, from Corsham in Wiltshire, have had confirmation that he died in the terror attack, Wiltshire Police said.

Mr Welch was in Tunisia with his partner of eight years, Eileen Swannack, aged 73, and the couple were regular visitors to the beach resort of Sousse.

Police have now confirmed that Eileen Swannack also died in the attack. Her family have been informed.

As the plane landed, a statement issued on behalf of Suzanne Richards for the Evans and Richards families said: "We are a very small and normal family, but nothing will ever be normal again.

"My son Joel, dad Pat and brother Adrian were our rocks and we are all heartbroken and devastated and will never get over losing them."

Joel's 16-year-old brother Owen survived the attack.

Ms Richards said the holiday was intended to be a celebration and had only just begun.

"The 'jolly boys outing' as they called it, was to celebrate Joel finishing his second year at university with high grades and Owen finishing his GCSEs," she said.

Charles Evans, known as Patrick, was believed to be 78.

Adrian worked as a manager in a gas services department, while Joel was believed to be a talented football referee.

Mr Stollery, 58, was a social worker from Nottinghamshire who was on holiday with his wife Cheryl.

Mr Thwaites, who had been on holiday with his wife Elaine when they were both killed, was a former Birmingham City football player.

Mr Mellor, an engineer from Bodmin in Cornwall, was killed as he shielded his wife on the beach.

Ms Lovett was a 24-year-old fashion blogger from Lincolnshire.

David Cameron told the Commons he is looking at creating a ministerial committee to co-ordinate work across Government "to provide all the support that the victims of this appalling attack deserve and also to make sure that, as a nation, we mark and commemorate this event appropriately".

Those wounded 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 is under way into security failures and there would be armed tourist police on beaches.

A minute's silence will be held in memory of the victims at noon on Friday, a week after the outrage. Flags are expected to be flown at half-mast over Government departments and Buckingham Palace that day.

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