London attack: Family of missing Australian woman ‘bracing for worst’

Police in Southwark Bridge Road near the scene of Saturday's terrorist incidents
Police in Southwark Bridge Road near the scene of Saturday's terrorist incidents

The family of an Australian woman who has been missing since the London Bridge terror attack said they are “bracing for the worst”, Australian media have reported.

A friend on Facebook said Sara Zelenak, 21, became separated on Saturday night as they ran for their lives.

Australia’s ABC News reported a woman, who identified herself as Ms Zelenak’s aunt Tara, spoke outside the family’s home in Ormiston, near Brisbane, in Queensland on Tuesday.

“We are obviously very upset and emotionally distraught at this time. The family is trying to keep it together but bracing for the worst,” she told the news service.

Tara reportedly broke down as she described her “absolutely beautiful” niece as “the girl next door” and a “very special, kindred spirit”.

“She’s one of those girls that doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t do anything wrong,” Tara added.

Ms Zelenak’s mother, Julie Wallace, told Australian radio station 97.3FM her daughter had been travelling in Europe since March and was working as an au pair for a family in London, caring for two young boys.

She said she first heard news of the terror attack by text message as she was returning home from Canberra.

“I thought ‘oh no, not again’, and didn’t think much of it,” she said.

But she told listeners she received a “strange call” from the family her daughter was staying with, who told her they had given her the night off to go out with a friend.

“She never came back,” said Ms Wallace, who described her daughter as a “very smart, sensible girl”, adding: “She doesn’t do anything wrong.”

Ms Wallace said she had last spoken to her daughter on Friday afternoon when she said she was looking forward to meeting up with her parents in Paris in 28 days.

Asked how she felt when she was told her daughter was missing, Ms Wallace said: “Absolute terror, terror. Because we’ve been counting down the days to see her.

“I haven’t seen her in three months. She went in March on this wonderful trip away, life experience thing, that I was encouraging her to do because life experience is so good.”

She said Ms Zelenak had been at Westminster the day before 52-year-old terrorist Khalid Masood killed five in a car and knife rampage, and had planned to go to the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, where suicide bomber Salman Abedi murdered 22 victims.

“Everything, she’s just missed,” said Ms Wallace, who added she was planning to come to London with her husband to look for her daughter.