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Glenfeshie billionaire's three children killed in Sri Lanka attacks


By Tom Ramage

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Glenfeshie Estate owner Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne have lost three of their four children in yesterday's Easter massacre in Sri Lanka, it has been confirmed.

Mr Povlsen, the largest stakeholder in online fashion retailer ASOS, is the largest private landowner in Scotland after buying a string of estates.

It is understood that Mr Povlsen (46) and Anne (40) were on holiday with their four children at the time.

The attacks on hotels and churches on the island have claimed the lives of nearly 300 people.

Sri Lankan Navy soldiers stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine a day after the series of blasts, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, April 22, 2019. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan Navy soldiers stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine a day after the series of blasts, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, April 22, 2019. Easter Sunday bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

A spokesman for Mr Povlsen's company Wildland Ltd told the Strathy: “It’s tragic news. They were enjoying a family holiday together when it happened.

"We are all stunned. We’re still awaiting further news.”

It is not known which of the hotels the family was staying in at this point.

Anders Holch Povlsen
Anders Holch Povlsen

Police and security services in Sri Lanka are continuing to investigate the attacks. A total of eight Britons are feared to be among the dead.

A series of blasts, most thought to be the work of suicide bombers, ripped through churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday.

The bombings are being treated as a terrorist attack by religious extremists and police have arrested 13 but there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

In Colombo, St Anthony's Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels were targeted in the first wave of explosions shortly before 9am local time as worshippers attended morning services and tourists enjoyed their breakfasts.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there was "lots of speculation at the moment but there is no hard knowledge" about the perpetrators of the atrocity and "we obviously need to wait for the police in Sri Lanka to do their work".

He said the UK would offer Sri Lanka support in the days to come.

"If there is any help that the UK can give, we would want to give it," he said.

Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK, Manisha Gunasekera, said on Monday morning that eight British nationals were killed in the attacks.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "As of now I think there is information on eight nationals who have lost their lives and the other numbers are of other nationals."

Ms Gunasekera said the investigations were moving "very swiftly" but warned against taking a "linear view" on the motive of the attacks.

"This cuts across the ethnic and religious dimensions... it's very difficult to see who has been targeted," she said.

"It appears as if the entirety of Sri Lanka has been targeted as well as the unity and coexistence that Sri Lankans have attempted so hard to safeguard over the years."

One line of inquiry will be asking what intelligence services knew about the attack, with Minister for Telecommunications Harin Fernando tweeting: "Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence.

"Therefore there was a delay in action. What my father heard was also from an intelligence officer. Serious action need to be taken as to why this warning was ignored."

Kieran Arasaratnam, a professor at Imperial College London Business School, was staying at the Shangri-La.

"Everyone just started to panic, it was total chaos," he told the BBC. "I looked to the room on the right and there's blood everywhere.

"Everyone was running and a lot of people just don't know what was going on. People had blood on their shirt and there was someone carrying a girl to the ambulance. The walls and the floor were covered in blood."

Prime Minister Theresa May said the Easter Sunday massacre was "truly appalling", and "no-one should ever have to practise their faith in fear".

The foreign secretary said: "Obviously our High Commissioner is working on this with his team in the embassy in Colombo, working around the clock, and we are trying to gather as much information as we can about this," he said.

He said the terrorist attacks were "absolutely devastating and despicable" and "for this to happen on Easter Day is something that will shake people around the world, of all faiths and none, to the core".

At around the same time as the blasts in Colombo, explosions were also reported at St Sebastian's Church in Negombo and at Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa.

A few hours later, two more blasts occurred just outside Colombo, one of them at a guesthouse, where two people were killed, the other near an overpass.

Three police officers were killed during a search at a suspected safe house on the outskirts of Colombo when its occupants apparently detonated explosives to prevent arrest.

The authorities said at least 290 were killed and more than 500 injured in the attacks.

A curfew was imposed by the authorities on Sunday night and social media use was also restricted by the authorities, which claimed the move was to prevent the spread of false information.

Sri Lanka's prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned "the cowardly attacks on our people".

Britons in Sri Lanka who need help were 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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