As many as five Indians have died so far in the serial blasts that struck Sri Lanka on Sunday and the toll rose to 290 on Monday morning. The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka said on Monday morning that two more individuals, KG Hanumantharayappa and M Rangappa, had died in the attacks. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had announced the deaths of Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh on Sunday.
Around 500 people were wounded in the eight blasts, six of which occurred in the morning as Easter masses were going on, Reuters reported, quoting police officials.
The Sri Lankan Police have arrested 24 people in connection with the explosions in several churches and hotels in the island country, according to ANI. Of those arrested, at least 10 have been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department for interrogation, adaderana.lk reported.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan authorities discovered an Improvised Explosive Device near the departure area of Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo late on Sunday. Sri Lankan Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel diffused the bomb in a controlled explosion.
On Sunday morning, one explosion took place at St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, Colombo, and another at St Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya. Three hotels in Colombo – the Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels – were also hit. At least 67 people were killed in the explosion at a church in Negombo – north of the capital – and 25 at a church in Batticaloa around 8.45 am as the Easter masses were in progress.
The seventh blast, which took place at a guest house in the suburb of Dehiwala, killed two people while the eighth explosion, carried out by suicide attackers, claimed the lives of three police officers.
Telugu Desam Party leader Amilineni Surendrababu and five of his friends, who were on vacation in Sri Lanka, escaped narrowly as the hotel they had been staying at, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, was also attacked. Anantapur Superintendent of Police GVG Ashok Kumar said the six Indians were safe but could not be contacted.
Air India, IndiGo waive cancellation fees
Air India and IndiGo have waived cancellation and rescheduling fees for passengers flying to and from Colombo until April 24 in view of the blasts. “In view of the situation in Sri Lanka, Air India has waived off all charges for rescheduling/cancellation of bookings on its flts to/from Colombo for travel till April 24, 2019,” Air India said in a tweet.
“In light of the recent events in Colombo, we are providing full fee waiver on rescheduling/cancellation for all flights to/from Colombo for travel scheduled till April 24, 2019,” IndiGo tweeted. “Our prayers are with the affected.” The airline also advised passengers to reach Colombo airport four hours in advance due to the heightened security.
138 million died, claims Donald Trump
Meanwhile, United States President Donald Trump erroneously tweeted on Sunday that 138 million people had died in the attacks in the island country. “Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels that have killed at least 138 million people and badly injured 600 more,” he tweeted. “We stand ready to help.”
Trump later deleted the tweet and posted a new one with the corrected the figure for the dead at 138.