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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 13:07 GMT
Missing NI man 'died in tsunami'
Conor Keightley
Conor Keightley was travelling in Thailand
The body of a County Tyrone man missing since the Indian Ocean tsunami has been found in Thailand.

Conor Keightley, 31, from Cookstown, was on holiday when the earthquake struck on Boxing Day.

His body was found on Monday in the resort of Krabi, where he had been staying.

Mr Keightley is the first person from Northern Ireland to die in the earthquake floods. Arrangements are being made to fly him home.

He had last contacted his family just before Christmas.

His sisters, Michelle McCaughey and Darina Duffin, and two other family members spent the last week in the Thai resort of Phuket trying to trace his last movements.

We have to be thankful that we have a body, we have a grave that we can go to
Dermot Keightley

The Republic of Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Tuesday that his body had been formally identified.

Mr Keightley's parents said on Tuesday that they felt at peace because their son's body had been found.

His mother, Theresa, said they received the news on Monday, but it was officially confirmed at 0730 GMT on Tuesday.

"It was heartbreaking. But I was glad that he was found and that he would not be missing for the rest of our lives," she said.

"Thank God he has been found and that is a comfort to us."

Conor's mother, Teresa, said they were at peace now his body was found
Conor's mother, Theresa, said they were at peace now his body was found
Mrs Keightley said she had known in her heart that her son was dead.

"As a mother, I knew it before, that Conor had parted from this world. Everybody said: 'Live in hope' but I knew he was gone."

Conor's father, Dermot, said it had been a difficult time for all the family.

"We have to be thankful that we have a body, we have a grave that we can go to," he said. "There is a lot of people in the same boat as us, who do not have a body and who could never tell how their people died."

The couple said their two daughters were very brave for going out to Thailand.

"They were determined to get Conor and bring him back.

"It is great news that on the last day they were going to be out there, that he was found," Mr Keightley said.

Courage praised

Earlier, the Keightley family thanked those who had helped them in their search.

In a statement, they said: "We know now that Conor was, and now is, in paradise.

"We thank the people of Ireland and beyond for their kind thoughts, their generosity and prayers.

"This has been a pillar of strength for the entire family circle during this tragic time."

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern, who met Mr Keightley's family on Monday, expressed deep sadness at the death.

"I want to extend, on my own behalf and on behalf of the government, my most sincere condolences to Conor's family and friends," he said.

"During my visit to Thailand in recent days, I met with them and I was moved by the level of courage and determination they have shown during this most difficult time."

Last week, the first Irish victim of the disaster was confirmed. Eilis Finnegan, had just arrived in the resort of Phi Phi with her boyfriend when the massive waves hit.

Meanwhile, gardai are helping families searching for loved ones in the worst affected areas.

DNA samples are being taken from close relatives in a bid to determine if missing Irish people are among the dead found in Thailand.


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