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Family of Jewish teens killed in Sri Lanka talk of loss, plans to set up charity

Brother, mother of Amelie, 15, and Daniel Linsey, 19, who died in Easter bombings, say they’ll start a foundation to support the Colombo hospital where the teens’ bodies were taken

Daniel and Amelie Linsey (R-L) , two Jewish victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019. (Courtesy via Jewish News)
Daniel and Amelie Linsey (R-L) , two Jewish victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2019. (Courtesy via Jewish News)

The brother and mother of two Jewish siblings from London killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka have spoken of the moment they found out about the deaths of Amelie, 15, and Daniel Linsey, 19, as well as their plans to set up a foundation in their memory.

“I was woken by screaming — chaos,” David Linsey told the Daily Mail. “My little brother Ethan and my mother were hysterical with grief. My brother told me what had happened. My mother couldn’t speak. He said they were gone.”

The Islamic State terrorist group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s suicide attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels, which killed least 253 people and wounded hundreds more.

The Linsey teens were among the eight Brits killed in the attack while vacationing with their father. David and his mother along with 11-year-old Ethan didn’t go on the trip because his brother wanted to remain at home for the Easter holidays.

A Sri Lankan Police officer inspects a blast spot at the Shangri-la hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. (AP/Chamila Karunarathne)

The children were raised in their father’s Jewish faith although their mother is Catholic.

“There wasn’t a war of traditions,” David said. “We celebrate Hanukkah. We celebrate Christmas as well. Everyone acknowledges each other’s faith. We’d always drop my mother off at church on Christmas Day.”

Angelina Linsey, Daniel and Amelie’s mother, talked of her “beautiful children” and her pride that Daniel had overcome learning difficulties to be accepted at university.

David (L) and Matthew (R) Linsey speak of the loss of Amelie and Daniel in Sri Lanka Easter Sunday bombings, April 25, 2019 (Screen grab via CNN)

“For me, the important thing was that they were fearless — that they were never afraid to do anything and took things as far as they wanted to,” Angelina said.

The Linseys plan to set up a foundation to support the Colombo hospital where Daniel and Amelie’s bodies were taken.

“My dad suggested calling it ‘Love Is The Answer’ after his and my sister’s favorite song,” David said. “My dad had a particularly close bond with my sister. She was always a daddy’s girl.

“I think we should have their names on it. Call it the Amelie and Daniel Linsey Foundation, so they live on. We want to hear about them. It’s very important we remember the local victims as well. We hear about the eight Britons who died but we don’t even know the names of the Sri Lankans,” David added.

Daniel and Amelie were eulogized Wednesday in the British Parliament.

A priest conducts a mass burial for Easter Sunday bomb blast victims in Negombo, Sri Lanka on April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

“While the intended target of this atrocity were clearly meant to be Christian, the terrorists’ bombs did not discriminate,” lawmaker Howard Leigh said in the House of Lords. “The Linsey family were members of my synagogue. They shared the same classes as my children. Amelie celebrated her bat mitzvah last March, reading with poise, maturity and warmth from our Torah scrolls.”

He added: “Daniel was especially interested in Jewish festivals. He came to our synagogue before Purim … to help our staff setting up for the evening festivities. We have pledged as a community to offer our love and support to the Linsey family and do everything we can every step of the way. The Jewish community is used to counseling mourners who have been affected by the terrorists’ bomb, and this is another chapter in this sad and sorry book.”

Sri Lankan security personnel walk next to dead bodies on the floor amid blast debris at St. Anthony’s Shrine following an explosion in the church in Colombo on April 21, 2019. (ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)

The siblings’ father, Matthew Linsey, told CNN on Thursday of the moment their hotel was attacked.

“When the bomb went off, it’s hard to describe … It’s like a wave coming through of pressure,” he said.

“They actually went down to the buffet for and got the food for me and filled up my plate. And then I said I wanted a bit more. My daughter said I’ll get it, and then the bomb went off and they were both running towards me.”

Saying his instinct was to get out “as soon as possible,” Linsey said, “maybe I should have just stayed and covered them with my body,” adding that after a second blast near the hotel elevator, they “both were unconscious.”

“My daughter seemed to be moving, my son wasn’t. A woman offered to take my daughter downstairs to the ambulance. I needed help moving my son. Someone helped me move him down the stairs and they both ended up in the same hospital. I traveled with my son to the hospital.”

In the hospital, Linsey said he “yelled for help” and lost his voice, adding that “the people were very helpful … They did their best. They were very efficient and very kind.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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