Tunisia Massacre: Families must wait to bury Tunisia dead

Relatives of the three Irish people killed in last week’s terrorist attack in Tunisia face an agonising wait to bring their bodies home as the task of formal identification continues.

Tunisia Massacre: Families must wait to bury Tunisia dead

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was too soon to know when it would be possible to make repatriation arrangements.

“Repatriation can only commence after the completion of the formal identification process. The process of full and formal identification of the deceased is continuing in Tunis and given the scale of the tragedy it is expected that it may yet take a period of time before it is fully completed,” the department said.

While the formal procedures are ongoing, the families of Lorna Carty, 54, from Navan, Co Meath, and married couple Larry, 56, and Martina, 55, Hayes from Athlone, Co Westmeath, have accepted their loved ones are among the 38 dead.

Meath County Council yesterday opened a book of condolence in memory of all three Irish victims in the reception area of Meath County Hall in Navan.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation also opened an online book of condolence for Lorna Carty, a married mother of two and nurse described as a “a loyal and long-standing member” of the group.

In a tribute, the INMO extended its sympathies to the family and friends of all three victims, whom they said had been killed “tragically and needlessly”.

More stories of the horror emerged yesterday as shocked survivors of the attack recounted their experiences.

Anthony and Betty Tunstead from Dublin were on their way to meet Larry and Martina Hayes for lunch on the beach when the gunman attacked. They said they only escaped because they were still in their room doing some last-minute packing in preparation for leaving the resort later that day.

Lorna Carty from Meath died in the attack.

The couple, who were holidaying with Betty’s sister and her husband, thought they heard fire crackers but Anthony quickly realised it was gunfire and told everyone to stay inside.

At one stage when things had quietened down, they ventured out but heard an explosion they presumed was a grenade and took shelter again.

A short time later, Anthony had another lucky escape. “When it did calm down, I ventured out on the landing when this guy appeared from nowhere. He had a Kalashnikov. He didn’t make eye contact with me. If he had saw me I was definitely gone but he was looking for a way out.”

After another hour in their room, the Tunsteads went to look for Larry and Martina. “Larry was so gregarious, we said he’d be down there helping people,” Betty said.

She said they became worried and feared the worst when there was no answer at the couple’s hotel room.

Scores of Irish holidaymakers remain in Tunisia, some having chosen to remain at their resorts despite the atrocity and others determined to travel out on their pre-planned holidays.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said anyone planning to travel there should exercise “extreme caution” but has stopped short of warning that no travel should be undertaken.

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