A mother and son were killed while eating breakfast at a five-star Sri Lankan hotel as a string of suicide bombs ripped through the country on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

Alex Nicholson, 11, his mother, Anita, 42, were killed while dining at the second-floor restaurant in the Shangri La hotel in the country's capital, Colombo, as it was gutted in one of several explosions which hit the country.

The schoolboy's father, Ben, survived, while The Daily Telegraph was unable to account for the whereabouts of the couple's youngest daughter.

Nicholson is not believed to have suffered life-threatening injuries and was seen at the capital's Judicial Medical Office with his ear plastered. He was said to be left "completely in shock".

Advertisement

The couple both work as lawyers in Singapore, according to their professional profiles online. Ben Nicholson is understood to be a partner in the Singapore office of Kennedys Legal Solutions and advises clients on insurance law. His corporate profile describes him as a committee member of the Asia Power Forum and "a strong supporter of [the insurance sector in Asia] and a regular at events in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand".

According to her LinkedIn profile, Anita Nicholson was a former legal adviser to HM Treasury in London from 1998 to 2010 and relocated to Singapore to work for the oil giant, BP, in April 2012. Her profile lists her current place of employment as managing counsel at the mining and metals company, Anglo American.

Anita Nicholson shared photos of her family on social media sporting the kit of the British and Irish Lions Rugby team. In 2013 she shared a photo of her smiling son sitting between England fly half, Owen Farrell and Wales winger, George North.

Her social media photographs also show her pictured at a fundraising even for First Hand, a Singapore-based volunteer group dedicated to helping children and families in Cambodia.

The Nicholson family were among at least five British nationals - including two dual US citizens - caught up in the Easter Sunday attacks after a series of explosions which ripped through churches and luxury hotels. The US authorities are leading on the developments regarding the dual nationals, whose identity remains unknown.


About 30 foreigners are among the dead.

Sri Lanka's foreign ministry said the nationalities of 11 foreigners killed in the Easter Sunday blasts have been verified. Three Indians, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals were killed, while a further nine foreigners were also reported missing.

A Dutch national and a Chinese national also have been reported among the victims.

Advertisement

News of the death of the British nationals came as the first victims of the Easter bombings were named as a television chef, Shantha Mayadunne, and her London-based daughter, Nisanga. They had been staying at the Shangri-La hotel in the capital Colombo, which was one of four hotels bombed this morning.

Nisanga, believed to be aged in her 30s, had posted a photo of the family in the hotel shortly before the explosion with the caption, 'Easter breakfast with my family'.

Six sites across the country were hit with almost simultaneous explosions, with officials saying two smaller blasts followed a few hours later.

The Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand hotels, all in Colombo, were targeted, and three churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo's Kochchikade district were also hit during Easter services, leaving blood-stained pews, rubble and body parts strewn all over the buildings.

Hours later, a further two explosions occurred at a guesthouse in Dehiwala and near an overpass in Dematagoda, on the outskirts of Colombo. Three police officers died near the overpass after entering a property to question suspects following a tip-off.

Alex Nicholson with British and Irish Lions players Owen Farrell, left and George North. Photo / Facebook
Alex Nicholson with British and Irish Lions players Owen Farrell, left and George North. Photo / Facebook

Mahen Kariyawasan, former president of the SriLanka Inbound tour operators (SLAITO) told the Telegraph that he met Nicholson yesterday as he went to the capital's general hospital to help survivors.

"They were at the Shangri La hotel when the explosion happened," he said. "That's where they got injured."

Kariyawasan said that Nicholson also met James Dauris, the UK's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, who has been visiting British victims in hospital. The attache later took to Twitter to condemn the "deplorable violence".

"I've been speaking this afternoon with Brits in hospital who have been affected by today's senseless attacks," the High Commissioner said.

"My team's and my thoughts go out to all those people who are suffering as a result of the deplorable violence #SriLanka has witnessed this Easter Sunday."

The Nicholson family are believed to have been in Sri Lanka for around a week and had booked their trip via Adhvan Tours, a spokeswoman said.

"I spoke to Ben in the morning," she said. "Naturally he was shaken up. The hospital authorities are very supportive. I think he was in shock."