MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s interior minister on Wednesday questioned the length of time that Britain was taking to identify victims of Saturday’s Islamist attack in London, and said the delay was causing misery to the family of a possible Spanish victim.
Spaniard Ignacio Echeverria jumped off his bike to help a woman who was being stabbed in the rampage, fighting off her attacker with a skateboard, his family told Spanish media.
However, he was set upon by two other men and was last seen slumped on the pavement, the family said, citing friends who were with him at the time.
Echeverria’s family has travelled to London to assist in any identification. The 39-year-old is from Madrid but lived in London, where he worked for HSBC.
Police received his fingerprints on Sunday but they were not enough to make an identification and they have asked for DNA tests, which could delay the process further, El Pais newspaper reported.
“The amount of time Britain is taking to identify people seems strange to me,” Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said in an interview with Radio Nacional on Wednesday, echoing similar remarks made by the foreign minister on Tuesday.
“Ignacio Echeverria’s family is showing exemplary behaviour and is going through an inhuman and desperate situation,” he added.
London police said specialist officers were working with the families of victims to identify those who were killed and liaison officers had been sent out to families of people believed to be dead.
They have so far officially identified two victims. The death toll stands at seven, with dozens wounded.
Police said there were a number of reasons why an identification could take longer in some circumstances and that families would be notified as soon as possible.
“We work in liaison with the coroner, that’s how the system works. When the coroner is content and we are content with the ID we have got we will issue that publicly,” a police spokesman said.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday night, his brother Joaquin Echeverria wrote: “Still no news from Ignacio Echeverria. The UK authorities ask us for 24 or 48 more hours to give us information.”
The French government announced and named on Wednesday a second French victim who was killed on Saturday night and is waiting for confirmation on a third man who may have been knocked off London Bridge during the attacks.
The Australian foreign affairs department on Wednesday confirmed two Australians died in the attack, but did not name them.
The families named the victims as Sara Zelenak, 21, and Kristy Boden, 28. Both were listed as missing for days and they were not identified until after their parents flew to London and met directly with police.
Additional reporting by Micahel Holden in London, John Irish in Paris and Jane Wardell in Sydney, Writing By Sonya Dowsett, Editing by Angus MacSwan