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Denver man Dieter Kowalski, 40, is first American confirmed dead in Sri Lanka bombings: 'He had just arrived at his hotel'

40-year-old Dieter Kowalski of Denver traveled to Sri Lanka on business and checked in to Cinnamon Grand Colombo Hotel on Sunday just hours before a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device during Easter brunch
UPDATED MAR 19, 2020
(Source : Getty Images)
(Source : Getty Images)

A Denver man has been confirmed dead after he went missing in Sri Lanka following a barrage of deadly terror attacks hit the island country on Easter Sunday.

The 40-year-old, Dieter Kowalski, had landed in Sri Lanka early Sunday morning on a business trip, but had not been heard from since, according to an NBC News report.

However, his brother confirmed on Monday morning that he was among the victims of the suicide bombing at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo Hotel, where he was booked to stay.

As of now, there are two US citizens who are confirmed killed, one is injured, and one unaccounted for. Authorities are yet to reveal their identities.

At 3.45 am on Sunday, Kowalski checked into the Cinnamon Grand after safely landing on the island. Just five hours later, the hotel was hit by a bomb — one of eight shuddering explosions across churches and hotels in the country that killed nearly 300 people.

Dieter's brother confirmed his death in a Facebook post on Monday. "It is with great sadness and deep regret that as Dieter's brother I confirm that Dieter was among the victims that passed away in Sri Lanka," he said. "As we know that Dieter saw his friends as family, we would like to share our grief over this tragic incident. More information to follow. We have all lost a brother today... RIP Dieter."

Prior to the confirmation of his death, Kowalski's friends and family desperately tried to get in touch with him and extract information from the hotel as well as the Consulate General of Sri Lanka.

Originally from Wisconsin, Kowalski wrote on his Facebook about traveling to Colombo, Sri Lanka on business. "And the fun begins," he wrote. "Love these work trips. 24 hours of flying. See you soon Sri Lanka!"

The 40-year-old's LinkedIn profile listed his profession as a senior technical operations lead for Pearson, a major education publishing and assessment firm.

On Sunday, at least six simultaneous blasts took place one after the other at the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels in Colombo, as well as three churches in the vicinity. Two further explosions were later reported by authorities.

When the explosions occurred, Easter brunch was being served at the hotels amidst ongoing Sunday church services.

Sri Lankan officials inspect St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, north of Colombo, after multiple explosions targeting churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019, in Negombo, Sri Lanka. (Getty Images)

According to police, the attacks were carried out by seven suicide bombers from Islamist terror outfit National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ). Until now, 24 suspects have been arrested in connection with the bombings — which collapsed ceilings and blew out windows.

Meanwhile, at least 27 bodies of foreigners have been recovered until now, Sri Lanka's government said. Among them were several U.S. citizens, according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Speaking to NBC News, the staff at a hospital in Colombo said they treated an American woman named Chimai Tran-Luu and had already discharged her.

Among others killed in the attack were three children of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, a shareholder in online retailer ASOS.