The morning of Sunday, April 21, started out normally for the citizens of the South Asian nation of Sri Lanka. Families gathered together to attend church services for Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the year for those of Christian faith. A string of eight total bombings set off by an extremist religious group shook nearby churches and hotels. While the death toll was first thought to be around 200, it has now risen to 321 people. Hundreds more men, women, and children are injured. On Tuesday, crowds gathered for the first of many funerals that will be held for the victims of these horrendous terrorist attacks, according to NPR.
Sri Lankans gathered in St. Sebastian’s church in Negombo, not far from the nation’s capital. The funeral was for the 20 individuals that were killed at the Cinnamon Grand hotel on Sunday. Those who wanted to pay their respects were required to undergo body checks and pass the security officers that stood guard at the front door of the church. Casket after casket was carried in, each one with its own white cross and flowers placed on top.
Among the dead were a family of 5 who were attending Mass. On Tuesday, their family held a joint funeral, the coffins of a mother, father, their 2 young daughters and infant son lined up in a row.
These are the victims of the Sri Lanka attacks. https://t.co/8kTXqwjFVK
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 24, 2019
“We need to say our goodbyes. There is a sense of sadness and loss,” a spokesperson for the hotel said.
At least one entire family was wiped out by the cruel and heartless attacks. Rangana Fernando, his wife Danadiri, two daughters, and an infant son were all killed in the Negombo bombing. Their devastated family is finding comfort in knowing that they died quickly.
“I’m jealous my sister is not with me anymore, but she and her family died in an instant and are now in a better place,” Danadiri’s brother said.
It’s been determined that of the vast number of victims in the attack, at least 45 were children. Of these child victims, 40 were Sri Lankan citizens while five were from various other countries. The youngest victim was an 18-month-old child. While these statistics are already horrific, Sri Lankans know that the death toll will likely get even higher in the coming days. Right now there are many more children in the hospital after suffering grave injuries. Unfortunately, many of them will not survive, UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac explained.
“These assessments might unfortunately change over time, as we know that some of the children who have been injured are currently fighting for their lives, particularly in the hospital of Colombo.”
Along with many Sri Lankan citizens, people from 14 other nations were also killed in the tragic events. Over a dozen people are still missing.