British mother and children confirmed among Sri Lanka terror victims
Anita Nicholson and her children Alex and Annabel were having breakfast at the Shangri La hotel in Colombo when a suicide bomber struck.
A lawyer and her two children were among the eight British victims of the Sri Lanka terror attacks, her husband has confirmed.
Anita Nicholson, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, were having breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo when one of the seven suicide bombers struck.
Mrs Nicholson’s husband Ben confirmed they had been killed in a statement on Monday afternoon.
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 Ben Nicholson
He said: “Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful 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.”
Local media reported Mr Nicholson desperately searching for his family after the blast.
He thanked Sri Lankan medics, the British High Commission and holiday company Adhvan Tours for helping him over the past 36 hours.
He said all three would have died instantly with no pain.
The family had been visiting Sri Lanka for a holiday from their home in Singapore. Mrs Nicholson worked for mining and metals company Anglo American, while Mr Nicholson is a partner with law firm Kennedys.
Sadly, we can now confirm that at least 8 British Nationals were killed in yesterday’s horrific attacks in #Srilanka. Our deepest condolences go to all those who lost loved ones and have been affected by this tragedy.— UKinSriLanka🇬🇧🇱🇰 (@UKinSriLanka) April 22, 2019
Also among the dead were retired firefighter Bill Harrop and his wife, GP Sally Bradley, from Manchester.
The couple had been on holiday when they were caught in the Cinnamon Grand attack.
Dr Bradley’s brother, former Labour MP Lord Keith Bradley, said: “She was truly a bright light in many people’s lives.
“The light may have been cruelly distinguished for no reason or justification, but she will always live in our hearts and the memories she provided will be forever cherished. I, and my family, will miss her more than words can articulate.”
Assistant County Fire Officer Dave Keelan, of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, paid tribute to his former colleague.
He said: “Bill served here for 30 years, retiring at the end of 2012. He was a much-loved and respected colleague and friend. He will be greatly missed.”
Londoner Matthew Linsey, 60, told the Times his daughter Amelie, 15, and son Daniel, 19, were killed in the Table One cafe of the Shangri-La Hotel on the last day of their holiday.
He said: “Amelie was really fun. She was smart, beautiful. Very loving, very caring, understanding. She cared about her family and her friends. And the same with Danny.”
They were born in Britain but had dual US-UK citizenship because their father, an investor in emerging markets, was born in the US.
No group has claimed the attacks, but Sri Lankan officials have named little-known Islamic extremist organisation National Thowfeek Jamaath.
The seven suicide bombers were all Sri Lankan citizens but the group is believed to have links with foreign terrorist networks.
At least 290 people were killed in the explosions and more than 500 were wounded.
Twenty-four people have since been arrested in a series of raids.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK would offer Sri Lanka support in the days to come.
He said the terrorist attacks were “absolutely devastating and despicable” and “for this to happen on Easter Day is something that will shake people around the world, of all faiths and none, to the core”.
Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence. Therefore there was a delay in action. What my father heard was also from an intelligence officer. Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored. I was in Badulla last night pic.twitter.com/ssJyItJF1x— Harin Fernando (@fernandoharin) April 21, 2019
One line of inquiry will be what intelligence services knew about the attack, with telecommunications minister Harin Fernando tweeting: “Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence.
“Therefore there was a delay in action. What my father heard was also from an intelligence officer. Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored.”
In Colombo, St Anthony’s Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted in the first wave of explosions shortly before 9am local time, as worshippers attended morning services and tourists enjoyed their breakfasts.
At around the same time, explosions were also reported at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.
A few hours later, two more blasts occurred just outside Colombo, one of them at a guesthouse, where two people were killed, and the other near an overpass.
Three police officers were killed during a search at a suspected safe house on the outskirts of Colombo when its occupants apparently detonated explosives to prevent arrest
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq said she had lost a relative in the attacks.
She posted on Twitter: “It’s all so devastating. Hope everyone is keeping safe. Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.”
I lost a relative today in the Sri Lanka attacks. It’s all so devastating. Hope everyone is keeping safe. Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.— Tulip Siddiq (@TulipSiddiq) April 21, 2019
Prime Minister Theresa May said the Easter Sunday massacre was “truly appalling”, adding: “No-one should ever have to practise their faith in fear.”
The Queen offered her condolences to the Sri Lankan people on Monday, saying: “I pay tribute to the medical and emergency services who are providing support to those who have been injured.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all Sri Lankans at this difficult time.”
Union flags on Downing Street and the Foreign Office building are due to be flown at half mast on Tuesday in mourning for the victims of the attack, the FCO said on Monday evening.
A curfew was imposed on Sunday night and social media use was also restricted by authorities, which claimed the move was to prevent the spread of false information.
Sri Lanka’s prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned “the cowardly attacks on our people”.
I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.— Ranil Wickremesinghe (@RW_UNP) April 21, 2019
Britons caught up in the carnage described the horrific scenes in Colombo.
After the blast at the Cinnamon Grand, NHS doctor Julian Emmanuel, from Surrey, told The Sun: “I’ve never seen such utter devastation.”
He added: “My children and wife are traumatised by what they saw today. We will never forget this. We will always remember Easter Sunday for this reason now.”
Kieran Arasaratnam, a professor at Imperial College London Business School, was staying at the Shangri-La.
“Everyone just started to panic, it was total chaos,” he told the BBC. “I looked to the room on the right and there’s blood everywhere.
“Everyone was running and a lot of people just don’t know what was going on. People had blood on their shirt and there was someone carrying a girl to the ambulance. The walls and the floor were covered in blood.”
Nisanga Mayadunne – who studied at the University of London, according to her Facebook profile – and her mother Shantha, a TV chef, were also reported to be among the dead.
Ms Mayadunne posted a photo of her family eating breakfast in the Shangri-La on Easter Sunday.
It emerged on Monday morning that Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen lost three of his four children in the attacks.
Mr Holch Povlsen is the largest stakeholder in online fashion retailer Asos and is believed to be the largest private landowner in Scotland after buying a string of estates.
A spokesman for the businessman asked for the family’s privacy to be respected.
Britons in Sri Lanka who need help were urged to call the High Commission in Colombo on +94 11 5390639, while people in the UK worried about friends or family should call the Foreign Office on 020 7008 1500.