Bodies of eight Tunisia beach victims back in UK

The coffin of Adrian Evans is taken from the RAF C-17 which flew the victims' bodies from Tunis Airport. Picture: PA

The coffin of Adrian Evans is taken from the RAF C-17 which flew the victims' bodies from Tunis Airport. Picture: PA

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The bodies of eight Britons killed in the Tunisian beach massacre arrived back in the UK yesterday.

A C-17 military transport aircraft, which left Tunis airport yesterday morning, landed at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The flight contained the bodies of Adrian and Patrick Evans, Joel Richards, Carly Lovett, Stephen Mellor, John Stollery, and Denis and Elaine Thwaites,

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

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 GCSE’s,” she said.

When the plane landed relatives of those on board wept and comforted each other.

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

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 are still waiting for the formal identification of Mrs Swannack but it is highly likely that she died with her partner.

Earlier Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs that he is looking at creating a ministerial committee to co-ordinate work across the 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”.

The repatriation process is expected to take a number of days.

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.

Tunisian authorities are questioning several suspected associates of Rezgui, who had links to the terror group Islamic State.

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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