Bodies of three Irish victims of Tunisia massacre may come home today
Larry and Martina Hayes
The bodies of the three Irish holidaymakers killed in Tunisia could be flown home as soon as today.
Lorna Carty from Co Meath and Larry and Martina Hayes from Athlone were gunned down by Seifeddine Rezgui at a resort in Sousse, in an attack linked to the so-called Islamic State.
Staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs are working with the families to finalise arrangements for the repatriation of their loved ones.
It follows the formal identification of all three Irish victims by the Tunisian authorities.
The operation to return the bodies of Britons killed by Rezgui to the UK also begins today, with the repatriation process expected to take a number of days.
Some 24 Britons are now confirmed to be among the 38 shot dead by 23-year-old student Rezgui (pictured) at the beach resort of Sousse on Friday, and the British death toll is expected to rise to 30.
All wounded Britons have been brought back to the UK, with four severely injured holidaymakers flown home in an RAF C17 transport plane accompanied by “medevac” teams. They are being treated at hospitals in Birmingham, Oxford, Plymouth and London.
Among the four is Allison Heathcote, 48, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, who was celebrating her 30th wedding anniversary when she was gunned down.
She was shot repeatedly in her stomach and shoulder and was pictured shortly after the attack in her pink bikini lying immobile on a sun lounger as hotel staff tended to her wounds. She has since undergone surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she is in a critical condition. Her husband Philip, 52, was killed in the terror attack.
A single inquest covering all the British dead is to be opened by the West London coroner.
Tunisian authorities are questioning several suspected associates of Rezgui, who had links to the terror group, the so-called Islamic State.
They have said he acted alone during the rampage but had accomplices who supported him before, providing him with weapons and logistical support.
Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi said an investigation was under way into security failures and there would be armed tourist police on beaches.
A group understood to be relatives of some of the British dead were among scores of people, local and European, who left flowers and messages at the memorials to the victims on the beach at Sousse yesterday.
The group, escorted by security guards, left bouquets with a message saying: “Taken too soon, missed by so many, always in our thoughts, lots of love, Denise, Paul, Mark, Kelly, Lee.”
Armed police continued to patrol the beach in front of the five-star hotels, which are are now almost empty at what should be a peak part of the tourist season.