COLOMBO, April 23: More than 300 people were killed in bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Sri Lankan authorities say at least 31 foreigners died in the attacks.
Some details on the victims:
The vast majority of the victims were Sri Lankan, many from the island nation’s Christian minority. Their names and other details of their lives were slow to trickle in and difficult to report, in part because authorities blocked most social media after the blasts.
But among them was Dileep Roshan, 37, a carpenter who left behind a wife and daughter, his family told The Associated Press.
“His wife and daughter won’t be able to do much now because he is gone,” said his older brother, Sanjeevani Roshan. “The real question is what will happen to their future.”
The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said at least 110 people were killed at St. Sebastian’s Church, located in a seaside fishing town at the center of Sri Lanka’s small Catholic community.
The town, Negombo, is called “Little Rome” for its abundance of churches. On Monday, house after house near St. Sebastian’s flew small white flags — a sign that someone who lived there had died.
At Colombo’s Shangri-La Hotel on Sunday, Nisanga Mayadunne posted a selfie on Facebook showing her and her relatives around a table, eating eggs and sausages. “Easter breakfast with the family,” she wrote with a smiley-face emoji.
Moments later, she and her mother, Shantha Mayadunne, were killed in an explosion at the luxury hotel. Shantha was an acclaimed chef who hosted live cooking programs on Sri Lankan television.
“No words can describe the pain,” Manik Mayadunne, Nisanga’s cousin, wrote on his Facebook page Monday. “They were the most loving family anyone could ask for and I will always be grateful for having them in my life.”
The hotel said in a statement Monday that three Shangri-La employees died while at work.
In some places, the violence struck entire families. On Easter Sunday, as they did every Sunday, Berlington Joseph Gomez, 33, and his wife, Chandrika Arumugam, 31, went to church at Colombo’s St. Anthony’s Shrine. And as always, they brought their three sons: 9-year-old Bevon, 6-year-old Clavon and baby Avon, just 11 months old.
Two days later, they were being mourned at the home of Berlington’s father, Joseph Gomez.
Dozens of neighbors gathered outside or filtered into the small, modest home, where candles burned beside three coffins and women sang hymns. The bodies of two grandsons have yet to be recovered.
Berlington Joseph Gomez was a store laborer, his father said, while Arumugam was a homemaker.
“All family, all generation, is lost,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s top diplomat in Britain says authorities know of eight British nationals killed in the bombings.
Among them were lawyer Anita Nicholson, son Alex Nicholson and daughter Annabel Nicholson, her husband, Ben Nicholson, confirmed in a statement. Nicholson said the family was on vacation, sitting in a restaurant at the Shangri-la Hotel when they were killed. He said, “The holiday we had just enjoyed was a testament to Anita’s enjoyment of travel and providing a rich and colorful life for our family, and especially our children.”
Former firefighter Bill Harrop and doctor Sally Bradley, a British couple who lived in Australia, were killed in one of the hotels, a family statement to The Australian newspaper said.
The Indian Embassy in Colombo says 10 Indian nationals died in the blasts.
H.D. Kumaraswamy, the chief minister of southern Karnataka state, mourned the deaths of two fellow Janata Dal Secular party members, K.G. Hanumantharayappa and M. Rangappa.
“I am deeply shocked at the loss of our JDS party workers, whom I know personally,” he wrote Monday on Twitter. “We stand with their families in this hour of grief.”
The State Department says at least four Americans were killed and several others seriously injured. It gave no details about the victims’ identities.
Fifth-grader Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, spending a year in Sri Lanka on leave from the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., was among those killed, the school said in an email to parents, according to the Washington Post. The email said, “Kieran was passionate about learning, he adored his friends, and he was incredibly excited about returning to Sidwell Friends this coming school year.”
Dieter Kowalski, who lived in Denver and worked for international education company Pearson, died in the blasts shortly after he arrived at his hotel for a business trip, the company and his family told the AP. A Friday Facebook post reads: “And the fun begins. Love these work trips. 24 hours of flying. See you soon Sri Lanka!”
The Bestseller clothing chain confirmed Danish media reports that three of the children of its owner, business tycoon Anders Holch Povlsen, were killed in the attacks. However, spokesman Jesper Stubkier gave no details in an emailed response to a query on the matter and said the company had no further comment.
Switzerland’s foreign ministry says a Swiss national, a Swiss dual national and a non-Swiss member of the same family were killed. It didn’t identify the second country or give other details on the victims.
Spain’s foreign ministry says a Spanish man and woman were killed but didn’t provide further details. The mayor of Pontecesures in northwest Spain, Juan Manuel Vidal, told Radio Galega that he knew the local pair and says they were in their 30s, according to a report by Spanish private news agency Europa Press.
Australia’s prime minister says a mother and daughter from that country were killed. Manik Suriaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter, Alexendria, were attending a church service in Negombo when they died.
China’s foreign ministry says one Chinese citizen was killed in the blasts, while five are missing. Five others were injured, including two who suffered severe injuries.
The Netherlands, Japan and Portugal have confirmed their nationals were among the dead.