Sri Lanka attacks – Brit dad says wife, son, 14, and daughter, 11, 'died instantly with no pain or suffering' in hotel bombing

A BRITISH dad who "wandered alone" through Colombo morgues as he tried to find his wife and children has today revealed they died instantly without suffering.

Ben Nicholson confirmed "perfect wife" Anita, son Alex, 14, and daughter Annabel, 11, were all killed in the horror Easter bombing attacks which rocked Sri Lanka.

The blood-soaked lawyer had earlier walked the streets of the capital and tragically searched hospitals for any sign of his family after they were caught up in the terror attack.

He said in a statement this evening: "Following reports in the media over the past 36 hours, my family and I wish to confirm that my wife Anita, our son Alex, 14, and our daughter Annabel, 11, were killed in the bombing of the restaurant of the Shangri-la Hotel, Colombo on Sunday morning while sitting at our table.

"Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering.

"I am deeply distressed at the loss of my wife and children. Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children.

"The holiday we had just enjoyed was a testament to Anita's enjoyment of travel and providing a rich and colourful life for our family, and especially our children.

"Alex and Annabel were the most amazing, intelligent, talented and thoughtful children and Anita and I were immensely proud of them both and looking forward to seeing them develop into adulthood.

"They shared with their mother the priceless ability to light up any room they entered and bring joy to the lives of all they came into contact with."


The Brits were among the 290 killed in coordinated 'ISIS-inspired' terror assaults at churches and hotels in the country on Easter Sunday.

One of those said to have launched the attack on the Shangri-La has been named as Insan Setiawan, according to local reports.

Also killed in the shocking attacks was as a UK firefighter who was officially praised for his heroism during the 1996 IRA bombing.

Billy Harrop, 56, and his wife Sally died during the bombings however their son Gavin, who was also in Sri Lanka at the time, survived the blasts, which targeted churches and hotels.

Mr Harrop was a well known and highly respected former firefighter who worked in various roles across Greater Manchester.

It's thought he had recently retired and emigrated to Australia with his family, and was on holiday.

Following the bombings which have rocked Sri Lanka, cops found 87 detonators at a bus station today.

Speaking with The Times, a lawyer said that fellow Brit Ben Nicholson found his son Alex’s dead body at a mortuary after frantically searching for his loved ones.


Pushpa Zoysa, in charge of the emergency triage at the National Hospital in Colombo, told the MailOnline: "I saw him covered in blood like this, walking up and down just there.

"He spoke to me twice, asking about his family. He had blood all over him but he was not injured, apart from a small cut to his ear.

"He was not running or crying, he was shocked. We wondered whether he was confused but he seemed in control. He just kept asking about his family members.

"He was walking around completely alone and I feel sorry for him but there were so many dead and dying people here, I didn't have time to speak to him more. Eventually he left."

Shakya Wickramanayake, a supreme court attorney, said that her dad and a family friend helped the distraught British father scour Colombo for his son.

She said: “The sister and mother were found dead before we met Mr Nicholson.

“Alex was found in the police mortuary mid-afternoon.”


  • At least 290 people killed and 500 injured after seven suicide bombers attacked three churches, four hotels and a block of flats in Colombo
  • Eight Brits, 'several' Americans, one Dutch, one Chinese, two Turkish, three Danes and one Portuguese national have been confirmed dead
  • Social media ban in place to prevent spread of misinformation, and night curfew imposed
  • 13 terrorists arrested, says defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene
  • Sri Lankan government names local Islamic terror group National Thowheeth Jama'ath as being responsible for the attacks
  • Government official says terror group was helped by an “international network” of Jihadis
  • A US official told CNN said that the sick Jihadi attackers were inspired by ISIS
  • It comes ten days after Sri Lanka's police chief issued alert on possible attacks to come
  • A six-foot pipe bomb was intercepted and destroyed by the Air Force on the way to Colombo International Airport

Anita and her two kids had been queuing for breakfast in the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo, when a terrorist – who checked in under a false address and name Mohamed Azzam Mohamed – joined the line at 8.30am before detonating his bomb before being served.

Ben is not believed to have suffered life-threatening injuries and was last seen with his ear plastered at the capital's Judicial Medical Office, the Telegraph reports.

He is said to be "completely in shock" after losing his entire family.

Last night a relative in Essex said: "It's all still very raw."

Ben and Anita both worked in Singapore as lawyers, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

The father-of-two is believed to be a partner in the Singapore branch of Kennedys Legal Solutions while his late-wife last worked for mining and metals company Anglo American.

According to her profile, Anita previously worked for HM Treasury in London and oil giant BP.

This morning, Manisha Gunasekera, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK, said eight Britons were killed in the bomb attacks.

Speaking to the BBC, she said: "As of now I think there is information on eight nationals who have lost their lives and the other numbers are of other nationals."

The Sri Lankan government has today named local Jihadi terror group National Thowheeth Jama'ath as being responsible for the horrific attacks.

Politicians have admitted a massive intelligence failure and has issued an apology to the victims after the country's military intelligence were given key intel about the planned attacks.

This information was not passed on to the Sri Lankan government just days before the attacks.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Sri Lankan prime minister, acknowledged that “information was there” about possible attacks.

He added that “we must also look into why adequate precautions were not taken”.

It emerged Sri Lanka's police chief Pujuth Jayasundara warned cops of suicide bombers planning to hit "prominent churches" 10 days before yesterday's attack.

However, cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said today that the sick terrorists were helped by an "international network."


"We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country," Senaratne said.

"There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded."

A United States government official told CNN said that the sick Jihadi attackers were inspired by ISIS

The US State Department has warned that "terrorist groups" are continuing to plot possible attacks at tourist locations, transportation hubs, shopping malls, hotels, places of worship, airports and other public areas in Sri Lanka.

Brainwashed ISIS supporters have been celebrating the attacks online.

It has emerged today that ASOS billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen has lost three of his children in the Sri Lanka terror attacks.


A spokesperson for Povlsen – Scotland's largest landowner –  confirmed that three of his four kids were among the 290 people.

The Mirror reports that Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed today that three Danes were killed in the blasts.

Mr Povlsen, 46, is the biggest shareholder in the British online clothes shop and second biggest shareholder in German firm Zalando.

London student Nisanga Mayadume and her TV chef mum Shantha were this afternoon confirmed to be among 35 tourists killed in the atrocity.

Ms Mayadume posted a heartbreaking photo of the family having breakfast at the Shangi-La Hotel just moments before the deadly explosion.

The University of London graduate, believed to be in her 30s, captioned the Facebook update from just ten hours ago with "Easter breakfast with family", under which hundreds of people have commented "RIP".

Radha Fonseca, a friend of Nisanga, told Gulf News: "When I heard the news, I was left numbed and shocked. I don't know what more to say.

"Besides the fact that she was bright and smart, her mother Shantha Mayadunne, a renowned chef, made her more popular in college. She was well respected and an inspirational chef for Sri Lankans."


And Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, who has family in Bangladesh, revealed she lost a relative in the blast.

She wrote on Twitter: "I lost a relative today in the Sri Lanka attacks.

"It’s all so devastating. Hope everyone is keeping safe. Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed 'several' Americans were also killed – along with victims from the Netherlands, Portugal and China.

Three churches and three hotels – the luxury Shangri-La Hotel, Cinnamon Grand and The Kingsbury Colombo – were targeted in the devastating attacks.

I lost a relative today in the Sri Lanka attacks. It’s all so devastating. Hope everyone is keeping safe. Solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.

Did you witness the attack? Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4368

Colombo International Airport was later put on lockdown amid reports of a suspicious package – which was later destroyed by a bomb disposal squad.

A manager at the Cinnamon Grand said the attacker there set off the explosion when the restaurant was full, after queuing for the breakfast buffet.

Harrowing footage taken immediately after one of the blasts in a church is full of chilling screams, as stunned and panicked people react to the horror.

A terrified British family told how they were caught up in the atrocity as their hotel became a target for the terror.

Dr Julian Emmanuel, 48, an NHS doctor from Surrey, his wife Maria, 39, and their young children Jasintha and Neethan were staying at the Cinnamon Grand when they were woken by the blast.


They cheated death by having a lie-in as the bomber detonated his suicide vest in the restaurant.

He told the Sun: “We were in our room and heard a large explosion.

“I came out of the room to see what’s happening.

“We were rushed downstairs. Staff told us there had been a bomb that had exploded in the restaurant in the basement.

“We were outside for hours and saw casualties being taken away.

“We saw someone who had an almost severed arm — there were shocked children covered in dust.

“One of the staff told me there had been a suicide bomber because he saw a decapitated body.

“The staff at the hotel lost two or three of their colleagues.

“My children and wife are traumatised by what they saw today. We will never forget this.

“We will always remember Easter Sunday for this reason now.”


Hours after the first six were reported, there were two more fatal blasts in the city,

An explosion at a hotel in Dehiwala killed two,and another in a flats in Dematagoda reportedly killed three police officers.

All of the six explosions this morning – as Christians attended Easter mass – were carried out by suicide bombers, according to initial investigations.

Sri Lanka's minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene said in a press conference: "We believe that all the culprits who have been involved in this unfortunate terrorist incident will be taken into custody as soon as possible. They have been identified, and they will be taken into custody as soon as possible."

He later confirmed 13 people have been arrested over the string of deadly blasts – one of whom is said to have been stopped in a van transporting explosives to the city.

Dozens of local people rushed to donate blood to help the wounded in the wake of the terrifying attacks, after witnesses reported seeing buildings shake in the explosions.

Shocking images from inside one of the churches show bloodied pews, a destroyed roof and bodies scattered on the ground – as all Easter services planned for this evening in the city were cancelled.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of reports of a number of explosions in Sri Lanka, including Colombo, and we are urgently seeking information from the local authorities.

"British nationals in Sri Lanka should follow the instructions of the local authorities and check FCO travel advice for updates."

Britain’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris added in a statement: “We understand that some British citizens were caught in the blasts but we are unable to say how many people are, or might have been, affected.”

Worshippers were attacked at St Anthony's Shrine, a Catholic Church in Kochchikade, Colombo, St Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a majority Catholic town north of Colombo, and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.

Dozens of people in Sri Lanka reported a restriction on social media use this morning, following the explosions.

The government confirmed it has shutdown access to Facebook and WhatsApp – a tactic which has been used before in the country to prevent the spread of violence and misinformation.

A night curfew from 6pm to 6am is also in place in the wake of the attacks, the Sri Lanka defence minister announced, with no indication when it will be lifted.

US President Donald Trump tweeted "heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels", adding "we stand ready to help".

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena urged people to stay calm, adding: "I am shocked and saddened by the situation that has occurred."

Brits in Sri Lanka who need help are urged to call the High Commission in Colombo on +94 11 5390639, while people in the UK worried about friends or family should call the Foreign Office on 020 7008 1500.

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