Normally resides not in the capital, Colombo, but Sunday was the Flemish Ilse Driesse (27) located close to the hotels where the deadly attacks in Sri Lanka took place. ‘Everyone drive here like madmen around, but hit home.’
Ilse Driesse is from Wulpen (Koksijde), but now resides for five months in Sri Lanka for her training and international cooperation at the UCLL. Most of the time, brings them by on the south …
Ilse Driesse is from Wulpen (Koksijde), but now resides for five months in Sri Lanka for her training and international cooperation at the UCLL. Most of the time, brings them by on the south of the island, but because they’re friends had to go off to the airport, she was this weekend to Colombo travelled.
One quiet night in a hotel and then back to its permanent place of residence. She thought. Until Sunday morning, when a few hundred meters away in the street three deadly explosions took place in other hotels. ‘I’m not injured’, says the West-Flemish. “I was sitting in my hotel room when it happened and have the explosions not even heard. Once outside we had noticed the enormous havoc. Ambulances were constantly back and forth to the drive, everywhere you saw the police …’
The panic among the population fell in the beginning along said Driesse. ‘Ten years ago was still a civil war. The people here are, unfortunately, used to quite a lot. My stagementor, a man from Sri Lanka, seemed more like panic to me, because I’m so close to the attacks was, than to what is possible with him could happen.”
The tension increased when it was announced that a curfew was set, the social media were blocked, and the internet usage was limited. “I have still the last bus. All vehicles are packed to capacity, everyone drives like lunatics around, to get home as soon as possible to hit. Superhectisch. And everywhere you look, on every street corner, soldiers. You can feel the tension.’
Chaos in the direction of airport
That is also confirmed by Sonja Button (72) and Edgard Van puyvelde got some (78), a couple from Machelen that for years on development assistance in Sri Lanka. During the explosions, they were in Negombo, where you will find the Saint-sebastien church, was affected. ‘Negombo is huge and we have the explosion itself was not seen, but also here there is an awful lot of damage.’
‘We just happen to have here on Saturday night a mass attended, but in a different church. And I can tell you: here is what people in the wrong. The church was packed, and outside, they stood even rows. At 22 o’clock in the evening, hey.’
The couple was wed night on the way to the airport, to return home. ‘That was planned, and not by the attacks, though. We only hope that our flight will get – and that that will effectively be able to leave. But here it is a chaos of vengeance. We are already more than one and a half hour earlier than usual left, but do not always, or we in time will arrive. The movement here completely silent. Everyone is frightened by the news about the curfew. Some really know what they need to do. Our driver wished us a few miles to the airport, drop-off, because he did not wanted to go farther away from panic.’
In total, there were Sunday mornings eight explosions take place in churches and hotels across Sri Lanka. It fell, according to ziekenhuisbronnen at least 191 dead and 500 wounded. The perpetrators are identified as religious extremists. For the moment it is not clear whether there are Belgians among the victims.