PARIS The dead and injured in Barcelona were a snapshot of the world – men, women and children from nearly three 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.
A related attack early Friday morning in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, south of Barcelona, took the death toll to 14. Here is a look at some of the victims:
Luca Russo, 25, Italy
One of Italy’s two victims in the Barcelona van attack is being mourned as a brilliant young engineer dragged to his death before his girlfriend’s eyes.
A determined Luca Russo, 25, already had a job in electronic engineering, no easy feat in Italy, where youth unemployment runs stubbornly high.
“We were investing in him, we wanted to make him grow professionally,” the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Stefano Facchinello, one of the partners in the Padua area company where Russo had worked for a year, as saying.
Facchinello praised Russo Friday as a “willing, precise and punctual young man. He made an impression on us for his rationality and determination.”
Rosario Rizzuto, the rector at Padua University, where Russo studied, said the young man had “earned his degree brilliantly and got down to work.”
The girlfriend, Marta Scomazzon, who was hospitalized with a fractured foot and elbow, told an aunt that “we were walking together, then the van came on top of us.”
Bruno Gulotta, 35, Italy
A father from Legnano in northern Italy is being praised as a hero who protected his children during an attack in Barcelona.
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 she told him her husband had been holding the 6-year-old’s hand on the tourist-thronged avenue in Barcelona 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.
Francisco Lopez Rodriguez, 60, Spain
One of his nieces, Raquel Baron Lopez, said on her Twitter account that Rodriguez, 60, died immediately when he was struck by the van. After the attack, Lopez posted pictures of her uncle on Twitter when his family was looking for him and trying to find out whether he was alive.
The mayor of Lanteira, the southern town in Spain where Rodriguez was born, confirmed his death.
Elke Vanbockrijck, Belgium
Arnould Partoens, president of the KFC Heur Tongeren soccer 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.
“She was always positive,” he said in a phone interview. He said the team would hold a 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.”
Also listed as missing: Jared Tucker, 42, American
His sister, Tina Luke, told the Associated Press that Tucker and his wife, Heidi Nunes-Tucker, were celebrating their honeymoon in Barcelona. She said they married a year ago and then saved up for the trip.
Tucker’s wife told NBC News they were having drinks at a patio when her husband, 42, said he was going to the bathroom.
“Next thing I know there’s screaming yelling,” she told NBC News. “I got pushed inside the souvenir kiosk and stayed there hiding while everybody kept running by screaming.”
Tucker is listed as missing and hasn’t been found among the 120 injured.
Diana Gray, a neighbor of the couple in Lafayette, California told AP they were happy, loving and had a lot of friends.
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