A British lawyer said that his wife and two children died instantly after a suicide bomber set off an explosion at their hotel in Sri Lanka on April 21.
Ben Nicholson, 43, was spotted wandering around the streets of Colombo in a blood-soaked t-shirt looking for his family after the bombings but he later found out that his family was killed by the blast.
The family was dining at the restaurant at the Shangri-La Hotel on Easter Sunday when two suicide bombers walked in and blew themselves up.
Nicholson said that Anita, 42, and their children Alex, 14, and Annabel, 11, “mercifully died instantly with no pain or suffering.”
Ben Nicholson tragically lost his his family in the Sri Lanka terror attack and was found 'wandering alone' looking for them.
“I am deeply distressed at the loss of my wife and children,” Nicholson said in a statement. “Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife and a brilliant, loving and inspirational mother to our two wonderful children.”
The family was on a vacation planned by Anita, he said.
“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,” Nicholson added.
“Anita, Alex, and Annabel leave behind a large extended family and many close and cherished friends who are now grieving this tragic loss. We shall all miss them dearly. We are all grateful for the many expressions of support and good wishes. We would ask that the media now respect our privacy and allow us to grieve together.”
British man Ben Nicholson confirms death of wife, son & daughter in Sri Lanka attacks. They died instantly. “I am deeply distressed at the loss of my wife & children. Anita was a wonderful, perfect wife & a brilliant, loving & inspirational mother to our 2 wonderful children” pic.twitter.com/SMxtbnu4DH
— Deborah Haynes (@haynesdeborah) April 22, 2019
Nicholson thanked the medical staff at General Hospital for trying to save the lives of his family members.
Pushpa Zoysa, who is in charge of the National Hospital, told the Daily Mail that she saw Nicholson “covered in blood” and walking around the facility.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Briton Ben Nicholson lost his wife Anita and two children, Alex (14) and Annabel (11) in Sunday’s blasts. They were having breakfast at the Shangri-La.
“Mercifully, all three of them died instantly and with no pain or suffering.”
— Rajini Vaidyanathan (@BBCRajiniV) April 22, 2019
Five other British nationals were killed in the blasts, along with dozens of other foreigners. The death toll was at 290 on Monday with 500-plus others injured.
Kieran Arasaratnam, a professor at Imperial College London, said that he was walking to breakfast at the Shangri-La Hotel when he heard the explosions.
He saw a young child being carried to an ambulance and everyone around him “just running in panic.”
“The military was coming in. It’s just total chaos. So I then just literally ran out and then I looked to the room on the right and there’s blood everywhere,” he told the BBC.
Marisa Keller, also from London, said that she was staying at the hotel but wasn’t inside when the bombers set off the blasts.
“There were lots of bodies, blood, ambulances, police,” she said, noting she felt “lucky to be alive.”
Three of the four children of Holch Povlsen, the largest private landowner in the United Kingdom and a large shareholder in ASOS and Zolando, were also killed in the attacks.
A Sri Lankan celebrity chef and her daughter were also named as victims. They were staying at the Shangri-la, the same hotel the Nicholson family was.
At least two Americans were killed in the explosions, with one being named as Dieter Kowalski, a 40-year-old Denver education professional who was on a business trip.
Authorities said that Nations Thawahid Jaman, a Muslim terrorist group, was behind the attacks, saying because of the breadth and sophistication of the bombings that it was likely the Sri Lankan group had international support.