An Australian is among 35 tourists injured after bomb blasts targeted at tourists and Christians devastated Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, leaving 290 dead and dozens of families torn apart.
Suicide bombers targeted three churches, three luxury hotels, and a guesthouse on Sunday morning, with authorities finding and disposing of another explosive at the airport later in the day.
News of the injured Australian comes as the heartbreaking stories of victims begin to emerge, with mothers and sons killed over the breakfast table, and worshippers found dead in their pews.
Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham told ABC Radio National no Australians were among the more than 200 people killed, he was awaiting further details on one Australian who was injured.
The Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka has been working to determine the whereabouts of Australians and monitor the situation.
DFAT confirmed they were providing assistance to an Australian injured in the attacks, but said they had not received any reports of any Australian fatalities.
Australian man Sam, 27, was at the Shangri-La in Colombo when the bombs exploded. He told Macquarie National News he and his friend five to 10 metres away from the blast, and were both left covered in blood.
“We went down the fire escape and into the car park and just got as far away from the building as we could,” he said.
Sam said the attack was a ‘surreal experience’, and said the miss was even closer for his female friend, who was unknowingly just moments from death.
“My friend had got up to get food,” he said.
“If that bomb was two seconds later, she would have been dead.”
He said before the blasts, he had seen two men looking ‘a little bit out of place’ and wearing backpacks.
“They seemed a little bit uncomfortable and it seemed a bit strange,” he said.
“There were people screaming and dead bodies all around,’ he said. ‘Kids crying, kids on the ground, I don’t know if they were dead or not, just crazy.”
Australian woman Donna told friends on social media she was ‘safely locked in a hotel until the government says it’s safe for foreigners to go out again,’ News Corp reported.
“There are now armed guards in the hotel foyer and sniffer dogs going through all cars as they come into the hotel.”
Megan Anderson, from Melbourne, told News Corp she was left shaken after the attacks. Ms Anderson is not staying at one of the affected hotels, but says she was told of the atrocities by another Australian who was on the street at the time.
She said there would ‘definitely’ be Australians staying at the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and the Kingston, which were all hit by bombers on Sunday, and she and her husband would flying home that night.
On Monday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the bombings were ‘an assault on the innocence of human life’.
“I’ve visited Sri Lanka on a number of occasions, and I’ve always been struck by the beauty of the people,” he said. “Sri Lanka is a multi-cultural country. It has people from many different faiths, from many different traditions, and like here Sri Lanka celebrates its diversity.
“It has been a decade since we have seen such violence in that place. We don’t know yet who was responsible for that violence, but I do know this.
“Hate and evil are what sits behind such attacks. They are the enemies of peace.”