Death toll in multiple Sri Lanka blasts over 290; 500 injured

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Multiple blasts shook Sri Lanka on Sunday, killing 290 people and injuring 500 others, according to local media.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said in a statement that 35 foreigners from China, the United States, Britain, and Belgium were among those killed.

Eight explosions ripped through the country on Sunday, as hundreds of worshipers gathered at churches to celebrate Easter Sunday.

Explosions were reported at St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, in the capital of Colombo; St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, on the outskirts of Colombo; and Zion Church in the eastern town of Batticaloa in the morning.

Blasts also struck three high-end hotels in Colombo –the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels– while on Sunday afternoon an explosion was reported from a hotel opposite a zoo in Dehiwala in Colombo, and another from a housing complex in Dematagoda, also in the capital.

St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo was cordoned off by military police. Families of the victims were waiting near the blast site.

“We have lost my wife’s sister and her daughter. It’s two or one kilometer away from our home. We got a call. At that time we went to that area, but we met people didn’t allow us to go inside. Even the police army was not there early morning. We are very, very sad after a long time we have this problem,” said Amal Jayakody, a relative of two victims.

Security has been beefed up across the country. State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene said all necessary precautions have been taken to keep citizens safe.

Domestic flights have been suspended in Sri Lanka, but people are still able to leave the country from Bandaranaike International Airport. Officials at the airport urge passengers to arrive four hours prior to their flight times.

Police said 13 suspects have been arrested in connection to the blasts, and investigations are underway.

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