String of blasts hit Sri Lanka churches, hotels; toll rises to129

Several people could be seen covered in blood, with some trying to help those with more serious injuries.

String of blasts hit Sri Lanka churches, hotels; toll rises to129

Colombo: A string of blasts hit high-end hotels and churches in Sri Lanka on Sunday, injuring hundreds of people as worshippers attended Easter services.

Toll in Sri Lanka blasts rises to 129, according to hospital sources, reported AFP.

The first explosions were reported at St Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St Sebastian’s in the town of Negombo just outside the capital.

At least 160 people injured in the St Anthony’s blast had been admitted to the Colombo National Hospital by mid-morning, an official told AFP.

“A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there,” read a post in English on the Facebook page of the St Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya in Negombo.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least 42 people were killed in Colombo, where three hotels and a church were hit.

Another 10 people were confirmed dead in the town of Batticaloa, in the east of the country, where another church was targeted and dozens of people injured in the St Anthony’s blast flooded into the Colombo National Hospital by mid-morning, an official told AFP.

Shortly after those blasts were reported, police confirmed three hotels in the capital had also been hit, along with a church in the town of Batticalao, in the east of the country.

An official at the Batticaloa hospital told AFP more than 300 people had been admitted with injuries following the blast there.

“Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway,” Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, said in a tweet on his verified account.

He said he had been to two of the attacked hotels and was at the scene at St Anthony’s Shrine and described “horrible scenes.”

“I saw many body parts strewn all over,” he tweeted, adding that there were “many casualties including foreigners.”

“Please stay calm and indoors,” he added.

Photos circulating on social media showed the roof of one church had been almost blown off in the blast.

The floor was littered with a mixture of roof tiles, splintered wood and blood.

Several people could be seen covered in blood, with some trying to help those with more serious injuries.

The images could not immediately be verified.

Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.