Scotland’s biggest private landowner has been left mourning the loss of three of his four young children in the Sri Lanka terror attacks.
Anders Holch Povlsen, who owns more than 220,000 acres across the Highlands, was visiting the country on holiday with his wife Anne and their children Alma, Astrid, Agnes and Alfred.
Jesper Stubkler, a communications manager for Mr Holch Povlsen’s wholesale fashion business Bestseller, confirmed three of the family’s children had been killed.
It comes as the death toll from Easter Sunday’s attacks rose to at least 290 following a series of blasts at churches and luxury hotels. Around 500 people were injured.
At least eight British citizens, including two with joint US citizenship, were killed. British lawyer Anita Nicholson, 42, and her children Alex, 14, and Annabel, 11, are among the dead.
Her husband, Ben Nicholson, who was also injured, said in a statement the trio had been killed while the family were sitting at a table at Colombo’s Shangri-la Hotel on Sunday morning. He said he was “deeply distressed at the loss of my wife and children”.
“Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering,” he said. He described his wife as a “wonderful, perfect loving and inspirational mother” and his two children as “amazing, intelligent, talented and thoughtful”.
Last night it was also confirmed that retired British firefighter Billy Harrop, 56, and his wife Sally were among the dead. Mr Harrop was a highly respected former firefighter who worked in various roles across Greater Manchester and was officially commended for his heroism during the IRA bombing in Manchester in 1996. It is believed the couple, who had recently emigrated to Australia, were in Sri Lanka on holiday.
It is unclear which of Mr Holch Povlsen’s children died or which of the explosions they were caught up in. Mr Stubkler requested the family’s privacy be respected.
Last Thursday, Mr Holch Povlsen’s daughter Alma posted a photograph of Instagram of her siblings sitting by a pool lined by palm trees. It described them as “three little bears”.
Senior Sri Lankan officials say seven suicide bombers behing the attacks belonged to the National Thowfeek Jamaath group, which is believed to have links with foreign terror networks.
No group has claimed responsibility, but 24 people have been arrested in a series of police raids.
Yesterday, another blast rocked a street near a church in the capital, Colombo. Police were attempting to defuse explosives in a vehicle used by the attackers when it blew up. It was not clear if anyone was hurt in the blast.
Mr Holch Polvsen – Denmark’s richest man with an estimated net work of £6.1 billion – paid £7.9 million to acquire the 42,000 acre Glenfeshie landholding in the Cairngorms 13 years ago. Since then he has purchased a series of estates, and the 46-year-old’s acquisition of Kinrara estate near Aviemore last November took his landholdings to more than 222,000 acres.
Through his Wildland company, with assets worth more than £123m and employing more than 60 people, the couple have committed to rewilding vast swathes of the Highlands. In December, they said their “labour of love” would not be realised in their lifetime, but would “bear fruit not just for our own children”, but future generations of visitors.
The family live in Constantinsborg, a former royal palace near Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, but they also maintain a private dwelling at Glenfeshie Lodge.
Although the scale of his landholdings has been criticised, he has been widely welcomed across the Highlands.