Eleven British tourists feared to be among 88 dead in Egypt
• The Ghazala Gardens Hotel was destroyed by blasts on Saturday
• Majority of missing tourists were staying at the hotel and are feared dead
• Egyptian police are looking for five Pakistani men
"We are working with the Egyptians to identify bodies and accumulate additional information, and we are in touch with families at what is a very difficult time for them." - Sir Derek Plumbly, British ambassador,
Story in full ELEVEN British tourists are feared to have died in the bombings at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The first British victim to be identified, Keri Davies, 29, was holidaying in the resort with his American girlfriend Kristina Miller, who was celebrating her 27th birthday and who also died when the bombs went off early on Saturday.
The Foreign Office said the missing were "highly likely" to have been caught in the blasts, which claimed at least 64 lives.
Hospital staff yesterday put the death toll at 88 and said that the Egyptian health ministry's count did not include a number of sets of body parts.
As the grim count continued, Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, yesterday denied allegations that an al-Qaeda network could have orchestrated the attacks in Egypt, London or elsewhere from Pakistan.
His remarks followed reports that Egyptian police were looking for five Pakistani men as part of the investigation into the bombings in Sharm el-Sheik. Posters of the five have been put up around Cairo. The men are believed to be among a group of nine men who arrived in the resort on 5 July.
Speaking of the missing Britons, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "The indication is highly likely that they have been involved as victims. We can not say for certain they are fatalities. They are highly likely to have been caught up in the blast."
Sir Derek Plumbly, the British ambassador, said one Briton was known to have died in Saturday's explosions at the Red Sea resort and ten more still missing were of "particular concern".
"We are working with the Egyptians to identify bodies and accumulate additional information, and we are in touch with families at what is a very difficult time for them.
"We can offer them whatever information we have and the services of this very large team."
There were also "significant numbers" of British police family liaison officers working in the resort and DNA experts with "every capability" had also flown to work with the team, Sir Derek said.
He added that most of the missing Britons had been staying in two parties at the Ghazala Gardens Hotel, which was devastated by one of the blasts.
He would not give details of how many Britons had initially been reported missing. None of the missing are thought to be from Scotland.
Mr Davies and his girlfriend were on holiday together before starting a new life in Australia.
Ms Miller's father, Tony, spoke to her by phone on Friday from his home in Britain about her birthday plans.
He said last night: "She was telling me about all the gifts she was bringing everyone, how she was going to spend her birthday that Friday going horseback riding and then going out to dinner with her boyfriend."
Mr Miller, originally from Las Vegas, said that after hearing no word from her following the blasts, he rushed to Egypt, only to be told by embassy officials in Cairo that she was confirmed dead.
Mr Davies's father, Steven, from Fareham, Hants, said his son and Kristina were at the Ghazala Gardens Hotel, which took the brunt of one of the three bomb blasts.
He said: "We only got confirmation of his death this morning. We knew he had been missing and hadn't heard from him and we feared the worst.
"But hearing the news still rips something out of you."
Yesterday Egyptian police fought gunbattles in desert mountains near Sharm el-Sheikh in a hunt for the militants.
Two days after Egypt's worst attacks since 1981, police were surrounding a group of Bedouins suspected of having links the blasts.
A police source said 25 Bedouins had been arrested after an exchange of fire with police in the hills inland from the hamlet of el-Ruwaisat, north of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Meanwhile, Mr Musharraf insisted that al-Qaeda's command and communication system had been eliminated and its "sanctuaries" in Pakistan's rugged tribal regions had been overrun.
Security forces had captured 700 of its fighters, he said.
However, the president admitted small groups of al-Qaeda militants might still be hiding in the country's North and South Waziristan regions, bordering Afghanistan.
As the investigation gathered pace, the parents of British couple Jeremy Larkin, 28, and Amelie Vickers, 31, who have disappeared since the blasts in Egypt, flew into Sharm el-Sheikh to search for them.
The young couple had gone out in Naama Bay on the last night of their week-long holiday at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Fergus Stewart, from Glasgow, the Hyatt Regency general manager, said they had been drinking in the hotel's Stars Bar in the early evening before heading to Naama Bay, where they went to the Camel Bar at about 10:30pm.
"At this stage we are trying to track their movements in the bay. We are looking for things like credit card movements," Mr Stewart said.
Elizabeth Thein, 25, from Skegness, was also hunting for missing relatives. Her mother Lesley Ayers, 50, from Basildon, Essex, and her grandmother Valerie Bracci, 70, from Canvey Island, Essex, were staying at the Ghazala Gardens Hotel, which was destroyed by a car bomb.
The women were due to fly back to Gatwick airport last night, but failed to turn up for their flight.
Mrs Bracci's sons Peter and Christopher also flew to join the search. Mrs Thein said: "I have been trying my mum's mobile phone constantly, but it just keeps going through to voice mail. We are so worried about them both and just need to know what has happened to them.
"I have been in touch with the British embassy several times, but they are just taking information rather than giving it out at this stage," she added.
She added: "It is difficult to describe what we are going through and how we feel.
"We are just desperate for someone to tell us what has happened to them. We feel like we are playing a waiting game. It's the not knowing that is the hardest."
A SCOTTISH survivor of the Sharm el-Sheikh attacks yesterday spoke of the terror and chaos in the wake of the blast.
Sylvia Duffy and her husband Gerry, who live in Glenrothes, had been in their hotel room sleeping when the bomb went off: "Normally, we would spend the evening in the reception, but for some reason that evening it was really quiet - usually it would be packed - so we decided to have an early night. We were woken by an almighty explosion. We could hear a young girl screaming for help. The patio windows had been blown in completely. It was only the heavy black-out curtains that stopped them from landing on us."
Mrs Duffy described the scenes in the hotel foyer: "There were charred bodies being carried past us. People lying with parts of their bodies missing. Everything was just covered in blood and glass."
Guests were taken to the hotel's football pitch, where they sat until 6am, waiting to be transferred to another hotel. The explosion was of such a strength that lying 100 yards from the point of detonation was the exhaust of the car that had carried the bomb.
Mrs Duffy said that the authorities' attempts to take control of the situation only made things worse.
"A lot of people had gone out earlier in the evening, and they weren't allowed back in to find their families, so there was just chaos and lot of people running around trying to track down others," she said. "I had to help one Italian girl who was just bawling her eyes out track down her mother and father, who were still alive.
"There were people who we made friends with, and who were in the hotel reception at the time, and they weren't on the special flight back, so I'm sure there are still people to account for.
"I was thinking of returning there next year, it was the best hotel I think we've ever stayed in, but I don't think we'll be taking a foreign holiday for a while."
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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