As of 1:15 ET on Easter Sunday, 138 people were killed and 560 people have been injured through a multiple of church and hotel explosions in Sri Lanka, according to CNN. By 5:15 a.m., that number had tragically risen to nearly 200 fatalities. Update: On Monday, the death toll had risen to 290.
The targeted churches of the terrorist bombs were located in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa, killing victims who were attending Easter services on Sunday morning. The blasts continued to rip through three popular tourist hotels, the five star Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand, and Kingsbury Hotel, all located in the capital city of Colombo.
The death toll is expected to continue to rise as more news reports come in. Congregations had gathered for services on Easter Sunday mass when the series of bombs started going off. Local hospitals will continue to update reports of their list of casualties from the terrorist attacks. The seventh and eighth explosions took place in the Dehiwela and Dematagoda areas.
“We are working closely with local authorities and emergency services to provide our fullest assistance and support to the affected staff and guests,” said a representative of Hotel Shangri La. Their cafe, Table One, was hit around 9 a.m. local time.
The first blast was reported at St Anthony’s Shrine, a well-known Catholic church. The second deadly explosion took place at St. Sebastian’s, a church in the town of Negombo, north of the capital. Police then confirmed a third church was targeted in the town of Batticaloa, along with three high-end hotels in the capital. A seventh blast was reported in Dehiwela, also near the capital.
Julian Emmanuel and his family were staying at the Cinnamon Grand hotel when the bomb went off. He told the BBC, “We were in our room and heard a large explosion. It woke us up. There were ambulances, fire crews, police sirens. I came out of the room to see what’s happening, we were ushered downstairs We were told there had been a bomb. Staff said some people were killed. One member of staff told me it was a suicide bomber… We were sent back to our rooms. We were reluctant to leave.
Emmanuel, who traveled from Surrey with his family for the Christian holiday said, “I have family in Sri Lanka, I was born in Sri Lanka. We were supposed to have Easter brunch, but that’s on hold. We felt it’s safe to go out if we avoid big congregations, shopping malls, etc. Residential areas seem fine. Local restaurants, not hotel restaurants. They’re struggling here because they have lost a couple of kitchens, the bomb went off in the restaurant.”
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said, “I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong,” he said on Twitter. “The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.”
Sri Lanka’s economic reforms minister, Harsha de Silva tweeted “Sec Defence and I am at Kochchikade church. Also was at ShangriLa n Kingsbury. PM is on his way from Bentota. Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway. Please stay calm and indoors. Many casualties including foreigners.”
The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, sent out his condolences. He tweeted, “Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured. My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief.”
The President of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, announced his support of Sri Lanka saying, “India condemns the terror attacks in Sri Lanka and offers its condolences to the people and government of the country. Such senseless violence, aimed at innocent people, has no place in civilised society. We stand in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka.”
This story continues to develop as more news and details are confirmed. As of press time, those responsible for the terrorist attacks have yet to be identified.
American Ambassador Templiz tweeted “Deeply saddened by the senseless attacks in Sri Lanka today. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We stand with Sri Lanka’s people at this terrible moment.”
The U.S. Embassy Columbo sent out the message of emergency response and assistance.
The heartfelt responses to the the blasts in Sri Lanka quickly poured in via Twitter. At 4 a.m. ET actress Mindy Kaling said, “This news from Sri Lanka is horrifying. My heart goes out to all victims and their families. So many were people attending church on one of the holiest of days, I am absolutely sickened.”