More than 3,000 British holidaymakers have been repatriated from Tunisia following the terrorist attack in Sousse on Friday that claimed the lives of at least 15 of their compatriots and 38 people in total.
The attack is the worst in Tunisia’s history and marks the biggest loss of British lives as a result of terrorism since the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005.
ABTA said there were around 20,000 British holidaymakers in Tunisia at the time of the attack, but this estimate only included those who had booked through ABTA-affiliated agencies.
Tunisia ranks as one of the most popular destinations for British holidaymakers in North Africa. According to ABTA, 424,000 Brits visited the country in 2014.
ABTA urged British holidaymakers in Tunisia to contact their tour operator and follow any instructions issued by local authorities.
Peter Long, the joint chief executive of Tui, which had more than 6,500 customers holidaying in Tunisia at the time of the attack, told The Sunday Times he was “deeply, deeply shocked” by the events in Sousse.
“Our whole organisation is reeling with pain to see the suffering that has taken place,” he said.
Tui had repatriated 1,000 customers at the time of writing, and has plans in place to bring back its remaining clients if they decide to leave the country in the coming days.
Many holidaymakers caught up in the attack had travelled to Tunisia with Tui subsidiaries First Choice and Thomson.
Thomson added 11 flights to its schedule on Sunday, creating 2,500 seats for customers hoping to return immediately to the UK.
“Those affected by the terrorist events in Tunisia are our main priority and we will continue to do all we can to support our customers as well as their family and friends at this exceptionally challenging time,” Thomson said in a statement.
“We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the friends and families of those involved in this tragic event. The whole of Thomson and First Choice are deeply shocked and truly saddened by the events and we are grateful to our staff on the ground and in the air and the emergency services who are working hard in an incredibly challenging environment.”
The Foreign Office has set up an emergency number for friends and family of those who may have been affected: 020 7008 0000.