The death toll in Sri Lanka has climbed to 290 after a wave of blasts hit churches and luxury hotels in eight different locations on Sunday, when Catholic and Protestants were celebrating Easter. Over 500 people have been injured in the blasts in the most violent attack in the country since the end of the country’s civil war in 2009.
24 people have been arrested in connection with the blast but the Sri Lankan government is yet to confirm who is behind the attacks.
The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Ministry has also activated the crisis cell, as several Romanian citizens were also reported in Sri Lanka at the time of the attacks: eight high school pupils from Iasi, who were in an exchange of experience trip, and also two families of Romanian citizens spending their holiday there.
MAE reported that the Romanian citizens are out of danger, and maintain connection with the Romanian Embassy in Colombo.
“The MAE’s crisis cell is monitoring the situation of a group of high school pupils from Iasi, who were on an exchange of experience trip to a school in Sri Lanka, it is the third year the project has been in place. The group of pupils are out of danger and is maintaining permanent contact with the Romanian Embassy to Colombo. The pupils are to leave Sri Lanka on April 26. At the same time, the members of the Crisis Cell have granted consular assistance to two families of Romanian citizens who were on holiday in Sri Lanka”, reads a MAE press release.
The Romanian pupils are studying at “Costache Negruzzi” High School in Iasi, eastern Romania and they were on an exchange of experience trip in Sri Lanka, Colombo.
The high school principal, Elvira Rotundu confirmed that the children are safe and sound and that they were in a trip at the moment of the attacks, 400km away from Colombo, with the pupils from the Sri Lankan partner school.
“They are safe, benefiting of the support of the local authorities and of the partner school and parents are also in touch with them. We want them back in Romania as soon as possible,” the principal said.
The pupils and their teacher were supposed to return to Romania on Friday, April 26, but they will leave earlier now.
Between 8.45 am and 9 am on Sunday, when Easter celebrations were in full swing, the first six blasts occurred– in three luxury hotels in the heart of Colombo and in three churches, one at St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, the second explosion at a church in Katuwapitiya in Negombo, which is located 30 km from the capital, and the third at a church in Batticaloa, a major Tamil-majority city in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province that was once a Tamil Tiger stronghold.
The three five star hotels that were hit were the Shangri-La Hotel, the Kingsbury Hotel and Cinnamon Grand Hotel, all located in Colombo. News agency AFP reported that the suicide bomber at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo had checked in under the name ‘Mohamed Azzam Mohamed’ the night before and was waiting in queue for breakfast before he set off the explosives attached to his back.
Later, in the afternoon, at around 2 pm, another blast hit a guest house near the zoo in Dehiwala in Colombo, killing two peopleThe eighth blast was reported about 45 minutes later, at a housing complex at Dematogoda in the city, which left three policemen dead.
After the first six blasts, the Sri Lankan government strengthened up the security, calling in all security, police and health care workers. University classes were cancelled, all Easter masses were called off and people were asked to stay indoors. The government then imposed restrictions on social media and a curfew from 6 pm on April 21 to 6 am on April 22 was announced.
he majority of those killed are Sri Lankan nationals, including several people celebrating Easter in churches on Sunday. Many victims of the blasts are still unidentified and Sri Lankan officials are working to confirm the final death toll.
Several foreign tourists were killed in the blasts. 11 foreign nationals including one from Portugal, two from Turkey, three from the UK, and two holding US and UK passports were confirmed dead in the incident, but victims reported so far were also from the Netherlands, India, China, etc. As per a media release by the Sri Lankan embassy in Washington DC, USA, there are 25 unidentified bodies believed to be of foreigners at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s mortuary.