London attack: Death toll rises to 8 after police recover body

Xavier Thomas, 45, is thought to have been struck by the terrorists van on the bridge
Xavier Thomas, 45, is thought to have been struck by the terrorists van on the bridge
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The death toll from the London Bridge terror attack rose to eight yesterday after police divers searching for a French national who had been unaccounted for since the atrocity recovered a body from the River Thames.

Witness accounts suggest Xavier Thomas was struck at speed by the van being driven by the three attackers, which resulted in him being thrown into the river.

Specialist officers from the Metropolitan Police’s marine police unit recovered the body at around 7:45pm on Tuesday evening near Limehouse, downstream of London Bridge.

The force said a formal identification had not yet taken place, but Mr Thomas’ next of kin had been informed.

The 45-year-old’s girlfriend, Christine Delcros, was seriously injured following Saturday’s attack. She is now in a stable condition.

The couple were visiting the city for the weekend at the time of the attack.

French president Emmanuel Macron confirmed that a third French victim had been identified among those killed, adding: “We are paying a heavy cost in these attacks.”

However, there was confusion and frustration yesterday over the fate of Ignacia Echeverria, a Spanish banker unaccounted for since the attack.

The 39-year-old, a financial risks analyst for HSBC, was last seen in the Borough Market area defending a woman using his skateboard.

According to Spanish media, his family were told of his death by the Spanish ambassador, Carlos Bastarreche, after they flew in to London on Tuesday.

Yesterday, his relative, Isabel Duran, wrote on Twitter that “he is in heaven with his inseparable skateboard”.

However, she later clarified that Mr Echeverria’s death was not official.

His father, Joaquin Echeverria, said British authorities had not shared any information with them, but his son’s employer, HSBC, had provided the services of a private detective to help with their search.

Spain’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, said he was “rather baffled” that authorities in Britain had been unable to clarify details of all the deceased.

He said: “It’s really hard to understand the delay. We can respect whatever protocols need to be observed, but you have to think of the situation the family – who are also victims – is going through.

“It’s a situation that isn’t far off being described as inhumane.”

Mr Dastis said he had pressed his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, to speed up the process so as to prevent compounding the “pain and anguish of the families”.

It comes as Prince Harry paid tribute to the Australian victims of the latest attack during a speech in Sydney.

Two Australian nationals were among those killed by perpetrators Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, after they ran over pedestrians before exiting the van and stabbing people in the nearby Borough Market area.

The family of Kirsty Boden, a 28-year-old nurse from Loxton in southern Australia, confirmed she was killed while running to help the injured. Her compatriot, Sara Zelenak, a 21-year-old au pair from Brisbane, was also confirmed as among the dead yesterday. Her aunt described her as “the girl next door, very special, and a kindred spirit”.

Speaking at the event to promote the 2018 Invictus Games, the prince said: “I would like to start by sending my thoughts to those affected by Saturday’s attack in London Bridge.

“Australians form an important and vibrant part of the fabric of life in London and we are reminded of that in good times and bad. Our hearts go out to the victims, their friends and families.”

Four other victims have been named so far: Londoner James McMullan; Canadian Christine Archibald; and two Frenchmen, Alexandre Pigeard, and Sébastien Bélanger.