Terrorism

Hopes fade for Spaniard missing after London terror attack

Father “very pessimistic” as Spanish foreign minister calls for faster identification of victims

El País|Agencies

More than two days after the London terror attack in which seven people died and at least 48 people were injured, the fate of 39-year-old Spaniard Ignacio Echeverría, a Madrid native living in London, remains unknown.

Ignacio Echevarría.
Ignacio Echevarría.

The family of Echeverría says he was returning from a park where he had been skating with friends, when the group witnessed a man stabbing a woman in the area of Borough Market, near London Bridge.

Echeverría’s friends said he was the only one among them who stopped to help the woman under attack, and that he faced up to the assailant.

“At that point he jumped off his bike and hit the assailant with a skateboard,” said a member of his family. The last time his friends saw him, he was “lying on the ground after defending the woman with his skateboard. He was brave, getting involved to save the woman.”

Since then, neither friends nor family have managed to get in touch with him, nor have they located him at any hospital despite having relayed the information to the Spanish consulate, to the police, to area hospitals and to HSBC, the company where Echeverría works.

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Fearing the worst, the Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis on Monday night spoke to his British counterpart Boris Johnson, asking for the process of identifying the bodies of people killed in the attack to be accelerated “so as not to increase the anguish and pain of the families.” Johnson apologized for the delay, saying it is necessary to follow protocols that ensure no false identifications will occur, according to diplomatic sources. As per these protocols, British authorities have requested fingerprints and DNA samples for Echeverría but have not allowed his sister, also a London resident, to see the bodies.

On Monday, Dastis also spoke with Echeverría’s sister to offer the support of the Spanish government, the Diplomatic Information Office said. Workers at the Spanish embassy and consulate are “in permanent contact” with the family and with British authorities in order to locate the missing man but have no news at this stage.

“We don’t have any updates at this time, but after the identifications [of the injured] that have been carried out, I am very pessimistic,” Echeverría’s father said.

“It is logical that he would have been identified by now and it seems that none of the people injured can be him,” he added.

A Red Cross Tweet calling for help in the search for Ignacio Echeverría

Echeverría’s family said that he was probably without ID at the time of the attack, since he was returning from doing sport. He is around 1.75 meters tall, weighs 85 kilograms, and was wearing jeans, black Vans shoes with white soles and a dark sweater. He has a scar above one of his eyebrows, near his hairline, and wears a gold chain with a medallion around his neck.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government has confirmed that a Spanish man known to have been injured in the attack is Alejandro Martínez, a graduate student who suffered chest, wrist and hand wounds, but whose injuries are not life-threatening.

English version by Susana Urra and George Mills.

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