Sri Lanka bombings: Popular television chef and daughter first to be identified among the victims
A popular television chef and her daughter, believed to be a British student, are among the first victims to be identified as eight explosions rocked Sri Lanka on Sunday, claiming over 290 lives, including around 37 foreign nationals. The blasts mostly carried out by suicide bombers were targeted at least three churches and three luxury hotels. Over 500 people have been injured in the explosions.
Television personality Shantha Mayadunne and her daughter Nilanga Mayadunne died tragically as they were present inside the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo when it was attacked. Reports state that the two were joined by their family who had all gathered at the hotel to have an Easter breakfast together.
Nilanga posted a heartbreaking picture on Facebook of her family having breakfast together at the hotel right before the explosion. She captioned the picture with: "Easter breakfast with family."
A college friend of Nilanga, 34-year-old Radha Fonseca, a Sri Lankan expat living in Dubai told Gulf News: "When I heard the news, I was left numbed and shocked. I don’t know what more to say."
"Nisanga was a very popular girl in college. Besides the fact that she was bright and smart, her mother Shantha Mayadume, a renowned chef, made her more popular in college. She (the mother) was well respected and an inspirational chef for Sri Lankans. Destiny has taken away both of them. I am devastated," Fonseca added.
Mayadume also ran a popular cookery school called the Shantha Mayadunne School of Cooking Art and was a well-known Sri Lankan figure. “Several thousands of people go to this school,” Fonseca added.
An immediate curfew has been declared by the Sri Lanka government until Monday and all social media sites, primarily Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have been temporarily blocked because of circulation of fake news. Authorities have arrested at least seven suspects in connection with the bombings.
World leaders including Narendra Modi, Imran Khan, Theresa May, Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Vladimir Putin condemned the attacks in Sri Lanka, calling the bombings "appalling." Pope Francis has offered his prayers for the victims of the atrocities in Sri Lanka at the conclusion of his Easter speech.
Speaking from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis said: “I want to express my loving closeness to the Christian community, targeted while they were gathered in prayer, and all the victims of such cruel violence.”
“I entrust to the Lord all those who were tragically killed and pray for the injured and all those who are suffering as a result of this dramatic event," he added.