A British teenage brother and sister escaped one of the Sri Lankan terror blasts only to be killed by a second, it was revealed last night.
Daniel Linsey, 19 and his younger sister Amelie, 15, were having breakfast with their father Matthew at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo before their flight home.
The teenagers somehow survived when a suicide bomb was detonated among the diners, including many tourists. But they died moments later when a second bomber struck as they tried to escape the carnage.
They are among almost 300 people massacred – including six more Britons – after suicide bombers cut down tourists and Easter Sunday mass worshippers, including dozens of children.
Amelie Linsey, 15, left, and brother Daniel, 19, right, were in the dining room of the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo when a bomber struck but escaped, only to be killed moments later by a second terrorist’s blast
Last night, the island was under a state of emergency after the explosions. In other developments:
- British father Ben Nicholson confirmed he had lost his whole family in the attacks. His wife Anita, 42 and their children Alex, 14, and Annabel, 11, were killed as they ate breakfast;
- Asos billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen lost three of his four children in the attack while on holiday with his wife;
- Senior Sri Lankan officials were repeatedly warned for three years that an attack would happen – but nothing was done because of political infighting;
- Fears were growing that more explosives are on the streets after police found 87 detonators and a pipe bomb filled with 110lb of explosives – big enough to cause a 400-yard blast radius;
- A video emerged of alleged ringleader Moulvi Zahran Hashim issuing threats against ‘infidels’ with a Union Jack in the background.
Devastated Mr Linsey, 61, an American city fund manager, returned to the family home in central London, yesterday to be with his British wife Angelina and his other two sons – aged 12 and 21 – who were not on the holiday.
He told The Times: ‘You can’t describe how bad it was. People were screaming. I was with my children. I couldn’t tell whether they were all right, it was dark. I was worried there would be another blast. We ran out — another blast.
‘We both went to where the lifts were and I couldn’t move them, they were both knocked out. My son looked worse than my daughter. I tried to revive him.
‘A lady said she’d take my daughter. I carried my son downstairs to an ambulance, we took him to the hospital. I yelled, ‘Please help my son, please help, please help’.
‘I thought my daughter was better off. I couldn’t find her because I was with my son. They sadly passed away.’
He told the newspaper that Daniel, a student at Westminster Kingsway College, who was deciding between attending university at Manchester or Leicester to study marketing this autumn, was a keen charity worker who had volunteered in Ethiopia for an orphanage and with nomads in Mongolia.
He said that Amelie, a pupil at Godolphin and Latymer School in Hammersmith, west London, was ‘beautiful inside and out’.
He added: ‘Both children were very interested in different cultures. They loved travelling abroad. That’s a very important part of who they were.’
His eldest son David, 21, told the Mail the family were on the last day of their Easter break: ‘They were due to fly home that day and had been having breakfast when the first bomb went off.
Amelie Linsey on a recent trip to Vietnam. She was killed, aged 15, in the Easter Sunday terror attack in Sri Lanka which claimed 300 lives including eight Britons
Londoner Matthew Linsey, pictured several years ago with his children Daniel and Amelie, both of whom were murdered on Easter Sunday
‘My dad said they were all caught up in a second explosion as they tried to escape. Both my brother and sister were instantly unconscious and were taken to hospital but they never woke up. My dad is shocked and has not said much apart from that. He is trying to be strong for my little brother who is 12 and my mum.’
Mr Linsey was said to have had suffered shrapnel wounds to his face and was yesterday being comforted by relatives at the family home. Oxford student David described how his father initially hoped Amelie had survived the impact of the blast as she had no major visible injuries.
‘At first they didn’t think Amelie was injured badly as there were no obvious wounds. Someone else took her to hospital but she must have had internal injuries.
‘I think they both died instantly as they never woke up. We cannot believe this has happened. I can’t describe just how devastating it is. You don’t think it will happen to you. We miss them so much already,’ he said. The devastated brother said the family has decided not to watch the news and were not ready to hear emerging questions about security blunders which could have prevented the deadly attacks.
He said the three had been on a trip of life time touring Asia over the Easter period and had travelled to Vietnam before arriving in Sri Lanka just days before the tragedy. He said: ‘They were really excited about it. It was supposed to be a nice Easter break and for them to spend time with my dad.
Ben Nicholson lost his wife Anita, 42 and their children Alex, 14, and Annabel, 11, who were killed as they ate breakfast
‘Daniel had always wanted to go to Sri Lanka and they had been to see the elephants.’
He said his brother, who was due to complete his A-levels, ‘loved travelling’ and planned to go to university to study tourism.
While Amelie, who was a pupil at the independent Godolphin and Latymer School, was said to have ‘loved looking after the family’ despite her young age. He said: ‘My sister was so loving, she was the centre of the family and kept us all together and my brother was one of the kindest people you could imagine.’
The siblings are among 291 people killed in the atrocities which have injured more than 500.
Many visitors have already left Sri Lanka, a popular holiday destination for Britons and other Western tourists. Shops and restaurants pulled down their shutters and cars stayed off usually busy roads as the government imposed a strict curfew.
Social media sites were shut down to avoid locals spreading panic with unfounded rumours.
A blood-spattered statue of Jesus Christ is pictured while crime scene officials inspect the site of a bomb blast, as the sun shines through the blown-out roof, inside St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo
Sri Lankan military stand guard near the explosion site at a church in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka
Hospital staff push a trolley with a casualty after an explosion at a church in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka
State minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene said investigators have identified the culprits behind the ‘terrorist’ attacks (pictuerd: Shangri La hotel, Colombo)
The police and the military were also granted draconian powers by Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders. Chaos unfolded on the morning of Easter Sunday when coordinated blasts ripped through churches and luxury hotels carried out by seven suicide bombers from a militant group called National Thowheed Jamaath.
Two of the bombers blew themselves up at the Shangri-La Hotel on Colombo’s seafront. Others targeted three churches and two hotels. Footage of a bomber wearing a backpack wandering around a church moments before detonation emerged yesterday.
A fourth hotel and a house in a suburb of Colombo were also hit, but it was not immediately clear how those attacks were carried out.
A large bomb defused late on Sunday on an access road to the international airport, and another blew up in a van before it could experts could carry out a controlled explosion. Three police officers were killed by two suicide bombers who detonated their vests when their house was raided. One bomber was a woman who was married to one of the Shangri-La Hotel attackers.
Officials said nine suspects were remanded in custody yesterday – seven Muslims, one of Sinhalese background and one Tamil. Two women died in an explosion at a safe house linked to the unnamed suicide bomber who died at the Shangri-La Hotel. They are believed to be his wife and sister.
Julian Emmanuel, 48, an NHS doctor from Surrey, was in the Cinammon Grand hotel with his family and was in bed when a blast ripped through its restaurant. He said: ‘We saw someone who had an almost severed arm – there were shocked children covered in dust. It was all very traumatising. We will never forget this.’
An Australian survivor of the attack, identified only as Sam, described the scene as ‘absolute carnage’. He said he and a travel partner were having breakfast at the Shangri-La when two blasts went off. He said he had seen two men wearing backpacks seconds before the blasts.
Security forces inspect the St. Anthony’s Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade in Colombo
A map showing where the eight blasts went off , six of them in very quick succession on Easter Sunday morning
‘There were people screaming and dead bodies all around,’ he said. ‘Kids crying, kids on the ground, I don’t know if they were dead or not, just crazy.’ Doctors said the Islamic State-inspired terrorists filled the bombs with ball bearings and other pieces of metal to cause maximum damage.
Some victims suffered such horrific injuries that identifying their bodies could take some time.
Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said an international network was involved, but did not elaborate. Defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene said those responsible for the atrocities were religious extremists, but no group has yet claimed responsibility. The bombings represent the deadliest violence in Sri Lanka since a devastating civil war ended a decade ago on the island.
The Queen joined world leaders in offering her condolences in the wake of the terror attack, and paid tribute to the medical and emergency services helping out.
Scotland Yard said it is ‘continually monitoring’ the threats Britain faces, including to places of worship. The FBI and Interpol are assisting the investigation.