LONDON (AP) — A military plane on Wednesday returned the bodies of the British tourists killed in last week’s Tunisian beach massacre to Britain, where soldiers delivered their coffins to waiting hearses in a solemn ceremony marking one of the worst terror attacks on Britons in recent years.
At least 27 Britons are confirmed among the 38 people shot dead when a Tunisian student opened fire on a beach in the North African nation’s central resort of Sousse. The British death toll is expected to rise further.
The eight bodies flown home to the Brize Norton air base northwest of London Wednesday included three generations in the same family — student Joel Richards, 19, his 49-year-old uncle Adrian Evans, and Richards’ grandfather Patrick Evans, 78. The three were on vacation to celebrate Richards finishing his second year at university.
“Their holiday lasted less than 24 hours and their futures and lives ended tragically,” Suzanne Richards, who lost her son, brother and father, said in a statement. “We are a very small and normal family, but nothing will ever be normal again.”
The Royal Air Force flight also repatriated the bodies of five other Britons to the air base. The repatriation process is expected to last several days, and post-mortem examinations will be conducted later.
Wounded Britons have already been brought back to the U.K. for hospital treatment, including four severely injured victims.
British authorities have said last Friday’s rampage, claimed by the Islamic State group, was the most significant attack on British people since 52 were killed when extremists targeted London’s transport system in July 2005.
Other victims included people from Ireland, Germany and Portugal.