THE first named victims of the Sri Lanka Easter massacre are a British student and her TV chef mum.
Tragically Nilanga Mayadume posted a photo of her family having breakfast at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo just before an explosion there.
Local media reports they died in the blast – which was one of six bombs set off at around the same time in a targeted attack this morning.
Nisanga captioned the Facebook update from just ten hours ago with “Easter breakfast with family”, under which hundreds of people have commented “RIP”.
Radha Fonseca, 34, a Sri Lankan expat living in Dubai, told Gulf News: “When I heard the news, I was left numbed and shocked. I don’t know what more to say.
“Nisanga was a very popular girl in college. Besides the fact that she was bright and smart, her mother Shantha Mayadume, a renowned chef, made her more popular in college. She (the mother) was well respected and an inspirational chef for Sri Lankans.”
Shantha Mayadume ran a famous cookery school called the Shantha Mayadunne School of Cooking Art and was a well-known Sri Lankan figure.
At least 207 people were killed in an Easter Sunday terror attack on eight churches and five-star hotels in Sri Lanka today.
Nearly 500 were injured when suicide bomb blasts ripped through multiple buildings in Colombo – where tourists were staying and Christian worshippers had gathered for morning mass.
Among the dead are 35 foreigners, local reports say, including nationals from the UK, US, China, Netherlands and Portugal.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:
At least 207 people killed after suicide bomb blasts at three churches and three hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka
A seventh and eighth explosion in Easter Sunday massacre hours after the first six
Tourists from UK, US, China, Portugal and the Netherlands are among the victims – one Dutch, one Chinese, two Turkish and one Portuguese national have been confirmed dead
Theresa May brands attack “truly appalling” as world leaders express sorrow
Social media ban in place to prevent spread of misinformation, and night curfew imposed
Culprits identified, says defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene, and seven arrested
Pope Francis condemns the attacks in his Easter Sunday message
It comes ten days after Sri Lanka’s police chief issued alert on possible attacks to come
A terrified British family told how they were caught up in the atrocity as their hotel became a target for the terror.
Julian Emmanuel and his family, from Surrey, were staying at the Cinnamon Grand when the bomb went off.
He told the BBC: “We were in our room and heard a large explosion. It woke us up. There were ambulances, fire crews, police sirens.
“I came out of the room to see what’s happening, we were ushered downstairs.
“We were told there had been a bomb. Staff said some people were killed. One member of staff told me it was a suicide bomber.”
Three churches and three hotels – the luxury Shangri-La Hotel, Cinnamon Grand and The Kingsbury Colombo – were targeted in the devastating attacks.
Hours after the first six were reported, there were two more fatal blasts in the city – an explosion at a hotel in Dehiwala which killed two, and another in a flats in Dematagoda which reportedly killed three police officers and led to arrests, taking the shocking attacks up to eight.
All of of the six explosions this morning – as Christians attended Easter mass – were carried out by suicide bombers, according to initial investigations.
Sri Lanka’s minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene said in a press conference: “We believe that all the culprits who have been involved in this unfortunate terrorist incident will be taken into custody as soon as possible. They have been identified, and they will be taken into custody as soon as possible.”
He later confirmed seven people have been arrested over the string of deadly blasts.
Shocking images from inside one of the churches show bloodied pews, a destroyed roof and bodies scattered on the ground – as all Easter services planned for this evening in the city were cancelled.