Posted on July 4th, 2019


This essay deals with two aspects of the bomb blast which do not get much attention. The bomb blasts sent many people to hospitals with grave injuries. This brought pressure on the hospitals concerned.  Sunday Times did an interview on this.

The major hospitals worked with clinical precision, at very short notice, in the wake of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that shook the country, said Sunday Times. The call to the National Hospital Sri Lanka (NHSL) came just after 8.45 a.m. on April 21, about the Kochchikade Church and three five-star hotel blasts and into action they went, with all the key” people of the Disaster Management Committee being informed immediately.

 As soon as the operator informed me that the telephone exchange had got the alert, I put our plan into action,” says the Deputy Director-General (NHSL), Dr. Kumara Wickremasinghe of this 3,500-bed facility.

He was informed of multiple blasts” and to expect a large number of casualties” and so the emergency wheels began turning, with him at the helm as the casualties were brought in a rush to the NHSL’s Accident & Orthopaedic Service which is considered the Level 1 Trauma Centre in the country.

More operating theatres were opened up, additional Intensive Care Units (ICUs) made ready and the neuro-trauma teams brought in,” he says, adding that resources such as sterile linen were reallocated from other parts of the NHSL. Later many outside donations flowed in

.Initially dispatching its own ambulances, he called for support from the Colombo South (Kalubowila), Colombo North (Ragama), Castle Street and Lady Ridgeway Hospitals in transferring the dead and injured from the blast site . 20-25 ambulances plying back and forth with sirens screaming and red lights flashing. This was while casualties were also being brought in private vehicles.

Pointing out that within a short time of about one hour, they received 267 people, Dr. Wickremasinghe explains that three weeks before, the NHSL had rehearsed the contingency plan as they usually do quite often. He explains how they dealt with this mass of casualties systematically – as soon as a casualty arrived, he/she was tagged with a number, which number would later be on the Bed-Head Ticket (BHT). Thereafter, ‘triaging’ took place to rush the severely injured to a resuscitation room, with the less severely injured (second level) being taken to a different area and those with minor injuries elsewhere.

It was a similar scenario at the Negombo District General Hospital. When the telephone operator informed Director Dr. Chandraguptha Ranasinghe, he had immediately contacted the Police to verify the bomb attack and get an insight into the number and type of casualties. The reply had been mass casualties”. Quickly invoking the Disaster Management Plan, the relevant personnel had got into position quickly. Having six ambulances, Dr. Ranasinghe had requested institutions close by for support, mustering the services of 24 ambulances.

By the time the casualties came in soon after 9 a.m., the ‘Triage Area’ with a Consultant and his team had been in place, assessing them and transferring them to the Primary Care Unit, OT, ICU or wards.

All the bodies were checked to confirm that there were no life-signs and sent to the temporary mortuary outside the OPD premises and kept for identification,” says Dr. Ranasinghe, explaining that Consultant Judicial Medical Officers (JMOs) were rushed to the blast site to carry out analysis and secure evidence.

He also alerted all nearby institutions such as the Chilaw, Marawila, Gampaha and Ragama Hospitals and the JMO offices of Mannar and Kurunegala as he realized that if there was a large influx of bodies, there could be a delay in their release if there was a shortfall of JMOs.

I asked the JMOs to come with their teams, dissecting crews and equipment,” says Dr. Ranasinghe who quickly got his staff to set up temporary dissecting rooms in four garages and also a temporary police post as well as a temporary magisterial post.

The postmortems started around 3 p.m. on Sunday, as they had to await the holding of the magisterial inquiry at the blast site. With 11 JMO stations working from 3 p.m. on Sunday to 1 a.m. Monday, 84 bodies had been released.

As a back-up plan, Dr. Ranasinghe had got in touch with the Defence Ministry and the Health Ministry’s Disaster Management Centre to secure two mobile coolers (40-foot and 20-foot respectively) to store the bodies and prevent decomposition in case there was a delay. However, the JMOs had worked throughout and by 11 a.m. on Monday, the day after the bombing, more bodies had been released.

The Negombo Hospital Director appreciates the great help” extended by many including the respective Medical Superintendents (MSs) and Directors of the hospitals such as Chilaw, Marawila, Gampaha, Ragama and NHSL; Health Ministry officials including Dr. Champika Wickramasinghe and Deputy Director-General (Planning) Dr. Sridharan Sathasivam; regional and provincial health officials and Gampaha District Secretary Sunil Jayalath. Donations of dry rations, clothes, water, medical equipment and consumables had flowed in from non-governmental organizations and private organizations. Post-disaster, the Negombo Hospital has held an in-depth debriefing to focus on any deviations from the recommendations and why and what the way forward should be, both immediate and long-term. ( Sunday Times 28.4.19 p 8)

The bomb blasts killed the wage earners of families and orphaned several children. The Yahapalana government felt obliged to do something about it.

On the instructions of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is also the Minister of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development and Youth Affairs, compensation cheques for deaths and injuries caused by the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks on St. Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya, were distributed in May 2019. .Secretary to the Ministry of National Policies, V. Sivagnanasothy said that compensation was paid for 89 deaths and 130 injuries .The payment was made on 16.05.2019 at Cardinal Cooray Church.

Sivagnanasothy said that the Prime Minister presented a Cabinet Paper and obtained approval of the Cabinet of Ministers for the payment of compensation of Rs. 1 million per death and a maximum of Rs. 500,000 for injuries based on the degree of disability/impaired.

“With regard to Property damages, a maximum of Rs.5 million based on the Chief Valuer’s report has also been approved for payment. The costs of rehabilitation/reconstruction of the damaged Churches are to be met by the Ministry of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement & Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development and Youth Affairs and work to be undertaken by the Sri Lanka Army and Sri Lanka Navy.

 Accordingly, already Rs. 10 million has been paid as an advance to St. Sebastian’s Church, Rs. 10 million for Kochchikade Church and Rs. 5 million for St. Zion Church in Batticaloa, on the directive of the Prime Minister.

“”Office for Reparations of the Ministry of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development and Youth Affairs is entrusted with the implementation of the compensation package payment for the attack that took place at the St. Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya. For St. Sebastian’s Church at Katuwapitiya, a sum of Rs. 81.7 million has been already paid for 89 deaths, while Rs.13.1 million has been paid for the 137 injuries reported.

 Similarly, for St. Anthony’s Church at Kochchikade and other places in Colombo where the attacks took place, a sum of Rs. 18.4 million has been paid for 27 deaths and Rs. 1.3 million for four injuries has been paid. Further, Rs.21.2 million has been paid for 27 deaths, while Rs. 3.7 million for 35 injuries has been already paid for the suicide bomb attack which took place in St. Zion Church at Batticaloa. A total compensation of Rs. 121 million for 143 deaths and Rs. 18.1 million for 176 injuries has been paid. Further, the balance payments for the victims will be paid on submission of necessary supporting documents The compensation packages are expected to be fully completed within 10 days covering all the affected parties as instructed by the Prime Minister”, Sivagnanasothy said.[1] (continued)

[1] Island 22.5.19 3 modern used no 23


  1. Randeniyage Says:

    Tunisia has banned the wearing of the niqabin public institutions for security reasons following three terror attacks.
    Prime Minister Youssef Chahed’s decision to ban the full face veil follows a suicide bombing in Tunis on Wednesday by a wanted militant.
    Witnesses said the suicide bomber who blew himself up was disguised in a niqab.
    It was the third incident in a week – Islamic State has said it carried out all three attacks – and came as Tunisia prepares for autumn elections.
    The country is also at the height of a tourist season in which it hopes to draw record numbers of visitors.
    A government official said: “Chahed signed a government decree that bars any person with an undisclosed face from access to public headquarters, administrations, institutions, for security reasons.”
    In 2011, women were allowed to wear the hijab and niqab in Tunisia after a decades-long ban under secular presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Habib Bourguiba, who rejected all forms of Islamic dress.
    Tunisia has been battling against militant groups operating in remote areas near its border with Algeria since an uprising overthrew Ben Ali in 2011.
    It is one of the few countries in the region where Islamists share rule with secular parties.
    The banning of the veil in Tunisia follows similar moves by a number of European countries.
    Last year, Denmark introduced a total ban on niqabs and burkas which conceal even more of the face.
    The Netherlands has also outlawed face-coverings in public places, including schools, hospitals and public transport.
    France banned the wearing of face-covering headwear in public places in 2010, handing out fines to those who break the law.
    In Britain, Conservative leadership contender Boris Johnson faced a major row last year when he compared women wearing face veils to “letter boxes” and bank robbers.

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