Europe

Tunisia attack: Three Irish confirmed dead in beach attack

A vigil was held in Sousse for all those killed in the attack Image copyright EPA
Image caption A vigil was held in Sousse for all those killed in the attack

A couple from County Westmeath have died in Friday's terror attack in Tunisia, bringing the number of Irish people killed to three.

Irish broadcaster RTÉ said the couple had been named locally as Laurence (Larry) and Martina Hayes.

They were in their 50s and came from Athlone. They had one daughter.

Irish woman Lorna Carty, a mother-of-two from County Meath, was also among 38 people killed when a gunman opened fire at a beach resort in Sousse.

At least 15 of those who died were Britons.

The attack started at about noon on Friday when the gunman began shooting on a beach close to two tourist hotels.

He was then shot dead by police. He was named later as Seifeddine Rezgui, a student from Tunisia who had links with Islamic State.

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Image caption Lorna Carty was on holiday with her husband, Declan, when she was killed in the attack

It has emerged that one of the Irish victims worked for transport company, Bus Eireann, for the last 20 years.

A spokeswoman said Larry Hayes was "highly regarded on both a personal and professional level, by all his colleagues at Bus Eireann".

She added: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the couple's daughter at this difficult time, and all the extended family."

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said he was not aware of concerns about any other Irish citizens.

In an interview with RTE Radio One, he added: "I myself have been in contact with family members of the citizens who I understand and believe have lost their lives.

" It is a particularly sad and difficult time for the families."

The British foreign minister, Tobias Ellwood, warned that the death toll of UK citizens was likely to rise because several people had been "seriously injured in this horrific attack".

The Tunisian prime minister Habib Essid said the majority of those killed were British.

Tunisia's tourism minister called the attack a "catastrophe" and authorities vowed to toughen security, drafting in army reserves and arming tourism police at beaches and hotels.

Sousse's tourism commissioner said more than 3,000 foreign tourists had left the town on Saturday.

Image copyright FETHI BELAID
Image caption A British tourist waits to leave Tunisia at Enfidha International Airport following the attack

More than 1,000 British tourists have returned to the UK, while it is thought 2,500 more could fly home on Sunday.

Shooting

Ms Carty, who was in her 50s, was on holiday with her husband Declan.

He was uninjured but is said to be "absolutely distraught".

Irish politician Ray Butler said he had spoken to Ms Carty's husband.

"It was one of the hardest phone calls I've ever made and it's so sad to hear what happened," Mr Butler told RTÉ.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tourists have been returning to the scene of Friday's attack in which least 38 people were killed

Chaos

Tunisia is a popular destination for Irish tourists.

Some holidaymakers who returned to the Republic of Ireland on Friday night said their break had "turned into hell".

The Irish government is warning people travelling to Tunisia to "exercise extreme caution".

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