Foreign ministry calls on Belgians in Sri Lanka to make themselves known
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    Foreign ministry calls on Belgians in Sri Lanka to make themselves known

    © Belga/AFP
    © Belga/AFP

    The Belgian ministry for foreign affairs has sent out a message to the Belgian citizens currently in Sri Lanka to get in touch to determine whether any was involved in the wave of explosions which took place on Sunday, cause more than 150 deaths and many more injuries. Posting on Twitter, the ministry wrote (in English): “Several blasts have been reported in Sri Lanka. If you are a Belgian citizen residing or travelling in Sri Lanka please inform the Embassy of Belgium in New Delhi that you are safe on 0091 98 10117931 or newdelhi@diplobel.fed.be.”

    The six attacks targetted three hotels and three churches. The situation at the time of writing is still unclear, but local sources put the number of deaths at 156, including at least 35 foreigners, with at least 400 people injured. Those numbers could of course change as time goes by and more information becomes clear.

    Three hotels were hit in the capital, Colombo, including the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, situated close to the prime minister’s residence. The other explosions took place at the Shangri La and the Kingsbury.
    Also in the capital, the church of Saint Anthony was attacked, together with the church of Saint Sebastian in Negombo to the north of the capital, and a church in Batticaloa, in the east of the country.

    Travel agent Thomas Cook has confirmed that no passenger on any of the company’s flights from Belgium to Sri Lanka was booked into the hotels affected. TUI has also confirmed that none of its 29 Belgian clients on the island was staying in any of the three hotels.

    Foreign affairs minister Didier Reynders posted two messages on his own Twitter account. “The foreign ministry is contacting Belgians living or travelling in Sri Lanka to see if they are safe or require assistance. We are also in touch the local authorities to obtain information on any foreign casualties.” In another message he said he was “very saddened and shocked”.

    No person or organisation has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times