Sri Lanka Brief
FeaturesNewsWhat they left behind: Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombing victims

What they left behind: Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombing victims

by

(Reuters) In Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, a lane that used to be alive with the sound of children playing is silent.

An entire family, including three children, died in an explosion at St Anthony’s Church on Easter Sunday, one of a series of coordinated attacks by suicide bombers that killed more than 250 people.

An empty street where brothers Bevon, nine, Clavon, six, and 11-month-old Avon used to play.

The youngest of the child victims was only 11 months old.

Bevon, 9, and Clavon, 6, also died in the April 21 blast.

An eight-year old cousin, Joshua, is struggling to come to terms with the loss.

“I love my cousins. I’m sure they’ll be back soon and then we can cycle and play in the street,” he said.

An auto-ricksaw belonging to Sampath Wishwakeerthi, 45, who was killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church, is parked outside his house. Sampath and his two daughters were killed while his wife was injured.

Men, women and children of all ages were among those killed in the blasts across the country, claimed by Islamic State, that targeted churches and hotels.

Most of the victims were Sri Lankan, from all walks of life: a top chef, a teenage basketball player, an autorickshaw driver, a carpenter.

They left behind treasured possessions those that loved them cannot bear to move, as well as the empty spaces where they lived, worked and played.

A sewing machine belonging to Kritika is seen inside her house.

Priyantha Jayakody had skipped morning mass at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo that day because of an injured foot, but he listened to the sermon through an open window in his first-floor apartment overlooking the church.

After the explosion, he grabbed his crutches and hopped down the stairs. As he reached the street he could see people running out of the church. His wife Kritika, and their 17-year-old-son, who were both at the service, were nowhere to be seen.

She was killed and his son is battling for his life in intensive care. Since that day, Kritika’s sewing machine has sat in the family’s living room, a spool of thread loaded, awaiting her return.

Statues of Mary and Jesus are seen inside the house of Lahiru Prasanga Fernando, 34, and his wife Diliini Sangeewani, 34. The couple were killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church.

“She would always take care of me, my son and our house. She had just bought cloth and was making new curtains,” said Priyantha, wiping away tears.

“My life changed in seconds.”

A school timetable seen on the bedroom wall of Wishmi.

Chandima Yasawardheena lost her husband and their two teenage daughters in the Negombo blast, the deadliest of the eight bombings, in which more than 100 people perished.

A school bag is seen on the bed of Wishmi.

Weeks after the attack, the school bag of her younger daughter, Wishmi, 14, lies on her bedspread. Moving anything would mean coming to terms with the fact she isn’t coming back.

“I don’t feel like my daughters have left me. I don’t want to accept it,” Chandima said, her face bandaged from a shrapnel wound.

An outdoor studio setup of a cooking show hosted by Shantha Mayadunne.

Shantha Mayadunne, an acclaimed chef who hosted a television cooking show, was killed with her daughter minutes after the latter uploaded a selfie of them having breakfast in the Shangri-La hotel.

“She used to bring everything, including utensils and vegetables, from her house for the show,” said her producer, Sirimalee, gesturing to her workspace on the set.

“We still can’t believe she won’t be back in this studio, which was her kitchen.”

In Batticaloa, on Sri Lanka’s east coast, 14 children were among the 29 killed in a blast at the Zion Church.

An empty basketball court where Jackson used to play.

Jackson, a promising basketball player who was captain of his school team, died on the spot.

“He was my only child. I coached him to play basketball and we enjoyed playing together. Now my whole future generation is gone. Nothing is left,” said his father, Arasaratnam Verl, as he looked at Jackson’s jerseys and basketball.

“I wish I had gone to the church with him that day”, he said.

A fourth grade classroom attended by Kevin Kuventhirarasa.

Schools across Sri Lanka have begun to reopen but in Batticaloa, one student, nine-year-old Kevin Kuventhirarasa, will never return. He was killed while at Sunday school at the Zion Church.

“He was very active, generous and helpful,” said his teacher Vijithakumary Suthagar, in the empty classroom where she used to teach him. “I don’t know how I will explain his absence to his classmates.”

1 / 12

SLIDESHOW

An art file belonging to Kevin Kuventhirarasa.

An art file belonging to Kevin Kuventhirarasa.

Christian decorations hang on the door to the house of brothers Bevon, aged nine, Clavon, aged six, and 11-month-old Avon. The three brothers and their parents were killed during the during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Anthony Church.

Christian decorations hang on the door to the house of brothers Bevon, aged nine, Clavon, aged six, and 11-month-old Avon. The three brothers and their parents were killed during the during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Anthony Church.

An empty bedroom belonging to Rangana Fernando, 41, his wife Danadiri, 37, their daughters Fabiyola, 6, Leona, 4, and 11-month-old son, Seth, who were killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church. "We will lock this house after donating everything belonging to family. There is no one to take care of it. It was such a perfect happy family but everyone is gone because of one person," said a relative who had arrived from overseas to attend the funeral of the family.

An empty bedroom belonging to Rangana Fernando, 41, his wife Danadiri, 37, their daughters Fabiyola, 6, Leona, 4, and 11-month-old son, Seth, who were killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church. “We will lock this house after donating everything belonging to family. There is no one to take care of it. It was such a perfect happy family but everyone is gone because of one person,” said a relative who had arrived from overseas to attend the funeral of the family.

Toy dolls are seen inside the house of Rangana Fernando and his family.

Toy dolls are seen inside the house of Rangana Fernando and his family.

An empty kitchen is seen inside the house of Verlini Suranga, a 35-year-old housewife, who was killed during Easter Sunday bombings at Zion Church. Verlini Suranga was killed with her husband and nephew while attending the Easter mass.

An empty kitchen is seen inside the house of Verlini Suranga, a 35-year-old housewife, who was killed during Easter Sunday bombings at Zion Church. Verlini Suranga was killed with her husband and nephew while attending the Easter mass.

An empty bed belonging to Chamodh Parera, eleven, a sixth grade student who was killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church. Chamodh was killed with his aunt, Mary Sheila who accompanied him for the mass as his father had a fever.

An empty bed belonging to Chamodh Parera, eleven, a sixth grade student who was killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church. Chamodh was killed with his aunt, Mary Sheila who accompanied him for the mass as his father had a fever.

Photos of Rashini, thirteen, her sister Shalomi, ten, and brother Shalom, seven, who were killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church, are seen inside their house. Pradeep Thusantha who lost his wife and children was outside the church. He rushed towards his family when he heard the explosion. "Me and my wife were deeply in love for the last 15 years. Our family was bonded together. All five of us slept in one bedroom. I remember how beautiful they all looked when they left for the church. I worked hard to keep my family happy. Now I just want to leave this country and work for God for the rest of my life."

Photos of Rashini, thirteen, her sister Shalomi, ten, and brother Shalom, seven, who were killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church, are seen inside their house. Pradeep Thusantha who lost his wife and children was outside the church. He rushed towards his family when he heard the explosion. “Me and my wife were deeply in love for the last 15 years. Our family was bonded together. All five of us slept in one bedroom. I remember how beautiful they all looked when they left for the church. I worked hard to keep my family happy. Now I just want to leave this country and work for God for the rest of my life.”

An empty bedroom belonging to Rasika Dilrukshi, thirty, her daughters Rashini, thirteen, and Shalomi, ten, and son Shalom, seven.

An empty bedroom belonging to Rasika Dilrukshi, thirty, her daughters Rashini, thirteen, and Shalomi, ten, and son Shalom, seven.

A photo of Janisha Vidushan, sixteen, a student who was killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church. Janisha was killed with his cousin, aunt and grandmother.

A photo of Janisha Vidushan, sixteen, a student who was killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church. Janisha was killed with his cousin, aunt and grandmother.

An empty bed belonging to Janisha Vidushan.

An empty bed belonging to Janisha Vidushan.

An empty workshop of Dulip Kumar, 46, a carpenter who was killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church. He and his two teenage children died while his wife survived with an injury to her right eye. "He was known all over the town for his skills. We used to work together. He was suppose to open the workshop the next day of Easter after a few days break. It feels strange to come here without him," said his younger brother Jude Prasad Appuhamy.

An empty workshop of Dulip Kumar, 46, a carpenter who was killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church. He and his two teenage children died while his wife survived with an injury to her right eye. “He was known all over the town for his skills. We used to work together. He was suppose to open the workshop the next day of Easter after a few days break. It feels strange to come here without him,” said his younger brother Jude Prasad Appuhamy.

A bike stands outside the unfinished house of Lahiru Prasanga Fernando, 34, and his wife Diliini Sangeewani, 34, who were killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church. "They had been married for more than 15 years and were so happy together. They were childless but treated this house as their kid. They were building it slowly for the last few years. Now they've left me alone in this house," said Sudarshni Fernando, mother of Lahiru.

A bike stands outside the unfinished house of Lahiru Prasanga Fernando, 34, and his wife Diliini Sangeewani, 34, who were killed during Easter Sunday bombings at St. Sebastian Church. “They had been married for more than 15 years and were so happy together. They were childless but treated this house as their kid. They were building it slowly for the last few years. Now they’ve left me alone in this house,” said Sudarshni Fernando, mother of Lahiru.

Reuters 

Back to Top