Sri Lanka blasts
Blasts hit churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday, including in the capital Colombo Image Credit: Daily Mirror

  • Sri Lankan expat from Dubai visited family in Sri Lanka
  • He was supposed to leave back to the UAE day of the blasts
  • He is worried for the safety of his family back home

Dubai: Dubai resident Asanka Chandrawansa booked his flight to Sri Lanka, just as he always does, to visit his family. However, this was not going to be a regular trip.

What was supposed to be a relaxing family holiday turned in to an emotionally unsettling one.

It had been a while since the banker had seen his two children and wife who live in Kandy, a city in the island country. He had planned his trip to celebrate Vishu (a festival that marks the beginning of the spring season) with his family.

He was unware of the sequence of unfortunate events that would be changing his visit completely.

The night before the blasts, the family of four was out all day, visiting relatives and friends. “It was a peaceful day, we were out visiting people to celebrate Vishu,” the 47-year-old recalled.

However, the next morning played out quite differently. “It was my last day here [in Sri Lanka]. I was at home listening to the radio when I got the news of the first two blasts and received a call from a friend as well,” he said.

It was my last day here [in Sri Lanka]. I was at home listening to the radio when I got the news of the first two blasts and received a call from a friend as well

- Asanka Chandrawansa

Chandrawansa was staying with his family in Kandy, a city located over 100 kilometres away from Colombo.

As soon as he heard about the blasts he called all his friends in Colombo. He received the news that one of his former colleagues, Nilanga Mayadume had become a victim in one of the blasts and had passed away.

“She [his former colleague] had posted a picture on Facebook with her family just five minutes before the blast. Who would have thought this would happen. Her mother passed away too,” he said.

Nilanga was working at the Shangri-La hotel that was one of the places targeted on Sunday morning.

“It was extremely saddening to hear the news. We had worked together for a few years at a bank in Sri Lanka before I moved to Dubai,” Chandrawansa said.

Current situation

Chandrawansa said that the local television channels in Sri Lanka have reported that the airports around the country are busy with tourists rushing to return to their respective countries.

“Everyone is looking to leave right now and even some Sri Lankans are even considering migrating elsewhere, after the blasts,” he added.

However, the father of two decided to cancel his flight that he was supposed to board on the day of the atrocities: “I immediately cancelled my Sunday flight because my family asked me to stay back with them for a few days”.

He has booked a flight to return to Dubai later this week.

“I will be worried about the safety of my family once I am back, my children who are studying here will be in the back of my mind” he said.

Speaking about what the future holds, Chandrawansa added that he and his friends are thinking about the well-being of their loved ones and their nation: “We are thinking about our beloved country and the future of our children.”