PARIS (AP) — The dead and injured in Barcelona were a snapshot of the world — men, women and children from at least two dozen nations — testifying to the huge global appeal of the sun-kissed city.
Families, friends and government officials from Paris to Sydney, San Francisco to Berlin scrambled Friday to discover whether their loved ones and citizens were among those mowed down by suspected Islamic extremists who zig-zagged down Barcelona’s always crowded Las Ramblas promenade in a van, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100 others.
In Belgium, the KFC Heur Tongeren football team mourned the loss of Elke Vanbockrijck, the mother of two of its junior players, aged 10 and 14. The boys and their father, a policeman, were unhurt, the club president, Arnould Partoens, told The Associated Press. But Belgium officials confirmed the mother was among those killed. Partoens said the family was vacationing in Barcelona.
There was another fatality — taking the overall total to 14 — from a related attack late Thursday in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, south of Barcelona.
Here is a look at some of the victims:
Elke Vanbockrijck, Belgium.
Arnould Partoens, president of the KFC Heur Tongeren football team, said Vanbockrijck was at the club “nearly every day,” ferrying her 10- and 14-year-old boys back and forth to training and matches. He described her as very committed, often speaking her mind about the boys’ and their teams’ performances.
“She was not negative. She was always positive,” he said in a phone interview. He said the team would hold one minute of silence before every match and training session this weekend.
Partoens said the family was on vacation in Barcelona. The boys and their father, a policeman, were unhurt, he said.
“The mother was in the wrong moment and the wrong place,” he said.
In a message of condolence on its Facebook page, the club said: “We deplore the death of Elke, the mother of two players from KFC Heur Tongeren. She was often at the club, and was committed to our club. We will always remember her as a happy woman, a caring mother and loving wife. Elke will be missed. Our deepest sympathy goes out to her two sons, her husband, family and loved ones.”
Bruno Gulotta, 35, Italy.
The mayor in his town, Legnano in northern Italy, confirmed Gulotta’s death. One of his Gulotta’s work colleagues, Pino Bruno, told the Italian news agency ANSA that he saved the life of his two young children — Alessandro, 6, and Aria, 7 months — by throwing himself between them and the van that mowed people down.
Bruno said he spoke to Gulotta’s wife, Martina, and that she told him her husband had been holding the 6-year-old’s hand on the tourist-thronged avenue when “the van appeared suddenly.”
“Everyone knelt down, instinctively, as if to protect themselves,” Bruno said, adding that Gulotta put himself in front of his children and was fatally struck.
Gulotta was a sales manager for Tom’s Hardware Italia, an online publication about technology.
“Rest in peace, Bruno, and protect your loved ones from up high,” read one tribute on the company’s web site.
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