25 min ago
“We’re thinking of our brothers in Sri Lanka,” says Archbishop of Paris at Easter Sunday mass
Michel Aupetit looks on during his first mass as Paris’ Archbishop at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, in January 2018. CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images
The Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, referenced Sri Lanka as he began Easter Mass in Saint Eustache church this morning.
“We’re thinking of our brothers in Sri Lanka, who were slaughtered this morning,” he said.
The French capital suffered a devastating fire to its iconic Notre Dame cathedral earlier in the week. Donations have poured in to restore the 850-year-old structure.
22 min ago
BREAKING: Eighth explosion confirmed
Another explosion — the eighth of the day — was reported at a house in Mahawila Gardens, Dematagoda, where a fire was also reported.
Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene told press that action will be taken to stop the activity of all extremist groups in the country.
The seventh and eighth explosions, which took place in the Dehiwela and Dematagoda areas, seemed to be committed by “those responsible for the attacks running from the law,” according to Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Harsha de Silva.
Minister @RWijewardene addressing the press just now says action will be taken to stop activity of all extremist groups in the country. Social media temporary banned. 12 hour curfew from 6pm. The Dehiwela n Dematagoda blasts seem to be by those in the ring running from the law.
— Harsha de Silva (@HarshadeSilvaMP) April 21, 2019
32 min ago
BREAKING: 12-hour curfew announced
Police in Sri Lanka will impose an island-wide curfew starting Sunday from 6 p.m. local (8:30 a.m. ET Sunday), finishing at 6 a.m. local (8:30 p.m ET Sunday) on Monday morning, according to the President’s secretary, Udaya R. Seneviratne.
58 min ago
Politicians worldwide condemn attacks on churches, hotels in Sri Lanka
European President Jean-Claude Juncker has expressed his “horror and sadness” upon learning of the blasts. He said the European Union stood “ready to support” Sri Lanka.
It was with horror and sadness that I heard of the bombings in #SriLanka costing the lives of so many people. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who had gathered to worship peacefully or come to visit this beautiful country. We stand ready to support.
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) April 21, 2019
UK Prime Minister Theresa May also condemned the Sri Lanka bombings.
“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time.
“We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear,” May said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain denounced the bombings as “terrorist attacks.”
“The UAE affirmed its firm stance against all forms of violence, terrorism and extremism, targeting all without distinction between religion and race,” the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.
Both countries expressed solidarity with the government of Sri Lanka.
21 min ago
This is where the attacks happened
The seven bombings that occurred on Easter Sunday took place in locations across the country, largely in the capital, Colombo, but also in churches and hotels in other Sri Lankan cities.
The three churches that were attacked are St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, St. Sebastian’s church in the nearby city of Negombo and Zion Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.
Three of the hotels, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels, are located in Colombo. A fourth bomb went off later in the day in front of the Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, 20 minutes outside of the capital.
27 min ago
Eyewitness describes aftermath of seventh blast
Asela Waidyalankara, who witnessed the aftermath of the explosion at the hotel in front of the Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, said that he heard the explosion and went to his rooftop to check.
He said he saw two helicopters pass over the site, followed by the sound of ambulances and fire trucks. He told CNN that the smoke has stopped now.
Two people reportedly died in the seventh explosion, taking the death toll to at least 140.
1 hr 25 min ago
Dashcam footage shows moment of Colombo church blast
Local media are reporting that the dashcam video below captured this morning’s explosion outside St. Anthony’s church in Colombo.
1 hr 35 min ago
Sources say a seventh explosion has occurred
Multiple sources are reporting another explosion at a hotel in front of the Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, 20 minutes outside of Colombo.
The explosion comes on the heels of bombings at three churches and three hotels in cities around Sri Lanka this morning.
1 hr 32 min ago
State media: Airline passengers required to be at airport four hours ahead of their flights
Official government news portal News.lk has reported that passengers departing from Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) will need to be present at the airport at least four hours prior to their departure time, to account for extra security processes.
Sri Lankan Airlines, which is the ground handling agent for all airlines, added that only passengers will be allowed inside the airport terminal.
The airport is located to the north of the capital Colombo, on the outskirts of the city of Negombo, which was the site of at least one bombing today.
21 min ago
BREAKING: Hospital official updates number of foreigners among the dead
At least 20 foreigners have now been counted among the dead at Colombo National Hospital, according to hospital Director General Anil Jasinghe.
1 hr 55 min ago
Sri Lanka schools closed for two days
All schools across Sri Lanka will remain closed until Wednesday due to security concerns, according to official government news portal News.LK
2 hr 1 min ago
Sri Lanka President condemns bombings
Sri Lankas President Maithripala Sirisena (R) seen alongside former president and currently appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse in November 2018.ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed law enforcement and defense to “take every possible step to maintain law and order” and to conduct investigations into the attack and bring to justice those responsible, according to the government’s official news portal.
“I have given instructions to take very stern action against the persons who are responsible for this conspiracy,” President Sirisena said, adding that the government has taken all required steps in responding to the attacks.
He also urged the Sri Lankan people to cooperate with the government in this situation.
2 hr 3 min ago
Pakistan PM Khan: ‘Profound condolences to our Sri Lankan brethren’
Pakistan’s leader Imran Khan has tweeted his condolences, saying “Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief.”
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.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 21, 2019
2 hr 27 min ago
Journalist: Sri Lankans come out to donate blood in support
Sri Lankans are giving blood to help victims of the blasts, according to journalist Zahrah Imtiaz. She tweeted: “National Blood Bank brimming with people come to donate blood! Such an overwhelming response.”
— Zahrah Imtiaz (@Imtiaz88Zahrah) April 21, 2019
20 min ago
Priest: ‘Flesh thrown all over the walls and on the sanctuary’
From CNN’s Caitlin Hu in Hong Kong
The aftermath of the blast at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, north of the capital Colombo. Sandun Arosha F’do
Father Edmond Tillekeratne, social communications director for the Archdiocese of Colombo, spoke to CNN from St. Sebastian’s Church, one of the locations targeted.
He said that the blast took place after Easter Mass, and that there were about 30 bodies lying in the area of the church.
He said three priests had been celebrating the mass at the time of the blast. Two of them were badly injured by flying glass and debris, and one was only lightly injured because he was behind the altar.
He estimated that more than a thousand people had come to the church for Easter Sunday “because it is a special day.” Many came from villages, he added.
He described the ground as covered in rubble and shattered glass.
“You can see pieces of flesh thrown all over the walls and on the sanctuary and even outside of the church,” he added.
20 min ago
Police urge citizens to stay indoors
Onlookers mingle with security personnel following a blast at the St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo.ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images
Sri Lankan law enforcement have urged the public to stay indoors. They asked that bystanders not gather at the explosion sites or outside the hospitals where the injured are being brought, according to government official news portal News.LK.
Leave of all police personnel has been canceled by the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
2 hr 47 min ago
Facebook activates its Crisis Response tool for Sri Lanka bombings
Social media giant Facebook has activated its Crisis Response tool for the blasts. The feature provides a repository for news about the incident, and allows people to mark themselves safe and search for friends who may have been affected.
2 hr 48 min ago
Hospital sources: At least nine foreigners among the dead
Sri Lankan security personnel stand guard at entrance to the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019, after an explosion ripped through the luxury hotel.ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images
Hospital sources tell CNN that at least nine foreigners were among the dead brought to the Colombo National Hospital in the Sri Lankan capital.
The number of victims continues to climb: At least 560 injured people have been admitted to hospitals following the devastating blasts. As many as 260 of the injured were admitted to the Colombo National Hospital, while 300 people were hospitalized following the blast at the Zion Church in Batticaloa.
Sri Lankan security officials said police immediately rushed to all affected areas and sealed off the churches and hotels.
3 hr 2 min ago
India PM Narendra Modi condemns attacks
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tweeted about the multiple blasts that rocked three cities in neighboring Sri Lanka today. High-end hotels and three churches were targeted as worshipers celebrated one of Christianity’s most holy days.
“There is no place for such barbarism in our region,” he wrote, adding “India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.”
Strongly condemn the horrific blasts in Sri Lanka. There is no place for such barbarism in our region. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My thoughts are with the bereaved families and prayers with the injured.
— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 21, 2019
3 hr 5 min ago
Hospitals: Death toll from attacks rises to 137
At least 137 people have died in the attack, according to early reports from hospitals in three targeted cities.
In capital city Colombo, the Colombo National Hospital has reported 50 fatalities. Twenty-five died in Batticaloa, according to the Batticaloa General Hospital. And hospital sources say at least 62 people have died in the city of Negombo.
3 hr 19 min ago
State broadcaster: Six explosions in three cities
An ambulance is seen outside the church premises with gathered security personnel following a blast at the St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo on April 21, 2019. ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images
At least six explosions have been reported in a coordinated attack on churches and hotels across Sri Lanka.
Three churches in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa were targeted during Easter services.
Three hotels, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury Hotel, all in Colombo, were also hit with explosions, reported state broadcaster SLRC.
3 hr 18 min ago
Hotel issues statement about explosion
The Shangri-La hotel is seen in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo in this image dated November 16, 2017. ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images
The Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, which was the site of one of the explosions, released a statement:
“At approximately 09:05am local time, an explosion took place in Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo’s Table One cafe – one of several locations in Colombo which were affected by this morning’s attacks,” the statement reads.
“We are deeply saddened and shocked by the incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the casualties and those who have been affected.
“We are working closely with local authorities and emergency services to provide our fullest assistance and support to the affected staff and guests.
“Our immediate priority is to look after the safety and wellbeing of all involved. A Shangri-La crisis management team has been activated to provide all necessary support.
“As this is an active investigation, we are unable to comment further at this stage. We will provide an update once more information is available.”
By Euan McKirdy, CNN
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