US and UK issue travel advisory after multiple blasts in Sri Lanka: "Find shelter and exercise extreme caution"
The United States embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka issued an immediate travel advisory for American tourists in the country, asking them to follow instructions from local authorities. The advisory has also asked Americans to take "shelter in place and exercise extreme caution."
Over 290 people have been killed in at least eight continuous deadly bombings in the country, with over 500 people injured on Easter Sunday. The government has issued a curfew in the state, which begins at 6 pm on Sunday and will be in place till tomorrow. The near-simultaneous blasts initially rocked three churches and three hotels. Three churches in Kochchikade, Negombo and Batticaloa were targeted during Easter services. The Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury hotels, all in Colombo, were also hit, according to BBC. The blasts caused fatalities among worshippers and hotel guests. At least 20 foreigners were among the dead at Colombo National Hospital, according to hospital Director General Anil Jasinghe.
The United Kingdom also issued a travel advisory shortly after, asking Britons to follow the same instructions. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK said while issuing a notice for people traveling to and from Sri Lanka: "There have been a number of explosions in Sri Lanka, including Colombo, on Sunday 21 April. Please follow the instructions of local security officials and follow travel advice for updates."
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has reportedly called for a national security council meeting at his home later on Sunday.
“I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today. I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong,” the prime minister said in a tweet. "Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation.”
The Indian High Commission has issued helpline numbers for Indians stranded in Sri Lanka. Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, Sushma Swaraj on Sunday tweeted: "I am in constant touch with Indian High Commissioner in Colombo. We are keeping a close watch on the situation.”
The security at the Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport has also been tightened, and travellers have been asked to reach the airport at least four hours before the departure time, according to reports.
National Hospital spokesman Dr. Samindi Samarakoon told AP that the wounded were being treated in the capital Colombo's main hospital. The death toll is likely to rise as attacks continue in the country.