Sri Lanka bombings: Death toll revised downwards after 'many body parts' counted wrongly
The death toll for the Sri Lanka Easter bombing has been revised down from 359 to around 250.
Authorities said chaotic bombing scenes had caused the discrepancy.
“It could be 250 or 260, I can’t exactly say,” said Anil Jasinghe, director general of Sri Lanka’s health services. “There are so many body parts and it is difficult to give a precise figure.”
Deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene, whose ministry is responsible for the island’s police force, said the death toll had been revised down to 253 due to inaccurate figures provided by the country’s morgues.
“Unfortunately the health ministry provided the earlier number to us,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s top defence official meanwhile announced his resignation, amid allegations of a lapse in security that could have prevented Sunday’s massacre.
Security was beefed up around the country, particularly in Colombo, and streets remained nearly empty.
Education minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam told The Independent that government schools would reopen on Monday as scheduled.
“The forces have assured us that they will provide security for schools,” said Mr Kariyawasam, adding that steps will be taken to search schools and the surrounding areas before Monday.
Some parents, however, told The Independent that it was too early to send children back to school because public places remained targets.
“I don’t think I’ll be sending my daughter to school for at least a few weeks. I just don’t feel safe any more,” said Ronali Diasz, a mother of a 10-year-old attending a Christian school in Colombo.
“My child’s life is more important than education,” she added.
For some Tamil Christians, Sunday’s attacks were a bitter reminder of the past.
“It’s de ja vu. Living through the fear of not knowing if you or your children will come back home,” said Nirupa Fernandez, a Tamil Roman Catholic with three children.
“This bloodshed has taken me back so many years,” she added.
Sri Lanka’s three-decade ethnic war between government forces and the Tamil Tigers cost over 100,000 lives.
Public schools have been sending out messages to parents detailing stringent security measures that will be taken, reminiscent of actions taking during wartime.
From Monday, students will have to carry identification provided by schools, bags will be checked for explosives, and vehicles will not be allowed to be parked close to schools.
“It is a sad moment for our country and we need to safeguard our students, the future of our nation – at any cost,” said school principal B A Abeyrathne.
As the country continued to grapple with Sunday’s bombing, isolated incidents continued to cause panic amongst the public.
A minor explosion was reported in a garbage dump on a vacant plot of land behind the magistrate’s court in Pugoda – around 40km east of Colombo. The police reported no casualties.
Security forces also shut the entry road to Colombo’s main airport after a suspicious vehicle was identified at a nearby carpark, later confirmed as false alarm – the fourth in two days.
With additional reporting by agencies