Penshaw Monument is lit up in rainbow colours to honour Orlando nightclub shooting victims

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Iconic Penshaw Monument has been transformed with the colours of the rainbow tonight in honour of those who were killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting attack.

Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old bodybuilder of Afghan origin, killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in the American state of Florida on Saturday night.

Penshaw Monument lit up

Penshaw Monument lit up

Mateen, who had pledged his allegiance to Islamic State (IS) on the phone to police, was killed by Swat officers when he opened fire after crawling out of a hole made to rescue clubbers.

The killings at the gay nighclub have prompted an outpouring of support from around the world for the LGBT community.

Now, Sunderland's Penshaw Monument has been lit up in the colours of the rainbow to "show solidarity" for those affected.

The display became clearer as darkness drew in, washing each of its pillars in colour.

The rainbow flag flies at half-mast at Southwick Police Station in Sunderland in memory of the Orlando nightclub shooting victims.

The rainbow flag flies at half-mast at Southwick Police Station in Sunderland in memory of the Orlando nightclub shooting victims.

The light show goes through the spectrum, changing the view every few minutes.

The monument, which is cared for by the National Trust, will be lit in the colours of the rainbow flag - a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities - from dusk each evening this week.

At Sunderland Civic Centre and Durham County Council’s County Hall in Durham, the rainbow flag is flying at half-mast.

The gesture was also carried out by Northumbria Police, which lowered its rainbow flag at Southwick Police Station.

Councillor Mel Speding.

Councillor Mel Speding.

Councillor Mel Speding, the Sunderland City Council’s cabinet secretary, said: “It has been truly shocking to hear about the events that have unfolded in Orlando.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy and with people who worked so tirelessly to rescue them.

“As part of the International community it is important that Sunderland shows its sympathy and support to all those who have been affected.

“We hope that lighting up one of our most famous landmarks - the Penshaw Monument - helps symbolise support and is a focal point for tributes to those in Florida.”

Since the council updated the lights at Penshaw last year, it has also been lit to show solidarity with the people of France and Belgium following terror attacks.

Similar tributes have already been displayed in Gateshead, where the Millennium Bridge has been lit up, London and Liverpool.