Death toll from Sri Lanka's blasts rises to 192, over 470 injured, nationwide curfew declared

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-21 19:21:02|Editor: mingmei
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COLOMBO, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Multiple blasts which shook Sri Lanka on Sunday have taken lives of 192 people while more than 470 others were injured, and a curfew has been declared nationwide, Sri Lankan authorities said.

Altogether eight explosions have ripped through the country so far, with six blasts hitting in the morning and two in the afternoon. The curfew has been imposed from 6 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. local time on Monday.

The Sri Lankan government has also imposed a temporary ban on social media to prevent the spread of false information.

Of the dead in the blasts, there are 35 foreigners, the police confirmed. Hospital sources had earlier said nine foreigners were among those killed while 13 others have been injured.

Four Chinese nationals were injured in the explosions, the Chinese Embassy to Sri Lanka said.

Both Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have condemned the attacks and appealed for calm.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the tri-forces and the police are conducting a thorough probe into the explosions.

The Morning explosions occurred when hundreds of worshipers gathered at churches to commemorate Easter Sunday, the police said.

Police spokesperson SP Ruwan Gunasekara said two explosions were reported from St. Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in capital Colombo and another church in Katana on the outskirts of the capital; a third explosion was reported from a church in Batticaloa in the east.

Television footage also showed blasts in three hotels -- the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels in the capital, which occurred following the church blasts.

The seventh explosion happened from opposite the Dehiwala Zoo in Colombo, and the eighth, which has reportedly been a suicide bombing, ripped through Colombo a short while ago, police have confirmed.

The Chinese Embassy has activated emergency response mechanism immediately after the incident, and embassy officials have visited the injured who were in hospital for treatment. The injured Chinese are now in stable condition.

The Chinese Embassy has reminded Chinese citizens and businesses in Sri Lanka to watch out for safety.

In a special statement, the police urged the public to stay indoors and not gather at the explosion sites which had been sealed off.

Television footage showed ambulances rushing the injured to the Colombo National Hospital, the Batticaloa Hospital in the east and the Negombo Hospital on the outskirts of the capital where the explosions took place.

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

"As a government all necessary action will be taken against any extremist group that is operating in our country," Wijewardene said.

Officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport have urged passengers to arrived four hours prior to their flight times, adding that no visitors would be allowed inside the airport.

Meanwhile, massive rescue operations are underway at the explosion sites, the police said.

There has been no claim of responsibility so far for the multiple blasts.