British people caught up in Sri Lanka explosions that killed 138

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British people caught up in Sri Lanka explosions that killed 138

British citizens were caught in the blasts in Sri Lanka that killed 138 people and injured more than 500, the UK’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka has said.

James Dauris said: ‘We understand that some British citizens were caught in the blasts but we are unable to say how many people are, or might have been, affected.’

The Sri Lankan government has shut down access to social media and messaging services in the country after eight explosions on Easter Sunday.

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - APRIL 21: An inside view of the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. According to reports at least 129 people killed and over 200 injured in blasts during the Easter Sunday service at churches and hotels as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

An inside view of St. Anthony’s Shrine after an explosion hit in the early hours of April 21 (Picture: Getty)

epa07518770 A general view after a explosion hit at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 21 April 2019. According to the news reports at least 25 people killed and over 200 injured in a series of blasts during the Easter Sunday service at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade and explosions also reported at the Shangri-La Hotel and Kingsbury Hotel. EPA/M.A. PUSHPA KUMARA

An explosion went off during an Easter Sunday service at St Anthony’s (Picture: EPA)

Sri Lankan police officers clear the road as an ambulance drives through carrying injured of Church blasts in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, April 21, 2019. A Sri Lanka hospital spokesman says several blasts on Easter Sunday have killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Sri Lankan police officers clear the road as an ambulance drives through Colombo (Picture: AP)

Mr Dauris urged British people in Sri Lanka to let family members know they are safe and said he and his consular team were visiting one of the main hospitals in Colombo where casualties had been taken.

Six near-simultaneous explosions hit three churches and three hotels in the early hours of Easter Sunday, with two more explosions hours later.

A security official said it is suspected at least two of the blasts were caused by suicide bombers.

Sri Lanka’s defence ministry has now ordered a night-time curfew, starting at 6.00pm local time (12.30GMT), running until 6.00am local time, the ministry said.

Christians attending Easter Sunday services are believed to have been the targets of the suspected terrorist attacks.

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Three luxury hotels – the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotel – and a church, St Anthony’s Shrine, were first hit in the country’s capital Colombo.

The area is frequented by tourists.

Two other churches in Negombo, a Catholic majority town north of Colombo, and in the town of Batticaloa, on the east coast of Sri Lanka, were also hit.

The seventh and eighth explosions were recorded in the Colombo suburb of Dehiwala and in the northern suburb of Orugodawatta.

Mr Dauris said the churches ‘were busy with Easter Sunday worshippers, the hotels with local people and foreign visitors’.

‘Reports suggest that several dozen people have been killed and hundreds injured in these evil and senseless attacks.

‘Our prayers are with all of the victims and their families.’

epa07518847 A general interior view showing damages after an explosion hit at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 21 April 2019. According to the news reports at least 25 people killed and over 200 injured in a series of blasts during the Easter Sunday service at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade and explosions also reported at the Shangri-La Hotel and Kingsbury Hotel. EPA/M.A. PUSHPA KUMARA

The blast at St Anthony’s Shrine was timed alongside explosions reported at three hotels in Colombo (Picture: EPA)

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - APRIL 21: Security forces inspect the St. Anthony's Shrine after an explosion hit St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019. According to reports at least 129 people killed and over 200 injured in blasts during the Easter Sunday service at churches and hotels as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Security forces inspecting the church (Picture: Getty)

Ambulances are seen outside the church premises with gathered people and security personnel following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

St Anthony’s Shrine in Sri Lanka’s capital was among the first to be hit (Picture: AFP)

Foreigners from the UK, the US, Japan and the Netherlands are reported to have been caught up in the explosions, though these reports are as yet unconfirmed.

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.’

Theresa May said the blasts were ‘truly appalling’.

Sri Lankan security personnel keep watch outside the church premises following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade, Colombo on April 21, 2019. - Explosions have hit three churches and three hotels in and around the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, police said on April 21. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

The Sri Lankan government has imposed a curfew and shut down social media access (Picture: AFP)

epa07518955 Locals and police gather at the Secon church Batticalova central road in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 21 April 2019. According to the news reports at least 138 people killed and over 400 injured in a series of blasts during the Easter Sunday service at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade, Shangri-La Hotel and Kingsbury Hotel with many more places. EPA/M.A. PUSHPA KUMARA

Locals rushed in to help rescue efforts after the blasts (Picture: EPA)

Sri Lankan security personnel keep watch outside the church premises following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade in Colombo on April 21, 2019. - At least 137 people were killed in Sri Lanka on April 21, police sources told AFP, when a string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches as worshippers attended Easter services. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

Security is tightened after the attacks were labelled a terror attack (Picture: AFP)

The Prime Minister said ‘no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear’.

She added: ‘The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time.

‘We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear.’

thumbnail for post ID 9277333Children rushed to hospital due to ‘chemical leak in swimming pool’

The UK’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris was in Colombo with his family at a church service which was cut short by the attacks.

He tweeted: ‘Our prayers for the victims of these evil attacks, and for their families.

‘Our thoughts are with the medical staff, police and all involved in the response.’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for ‘unity, love and respect’ to combat hatred.

He said: ‘I’m appalled by the horrific attacks in Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian calendar.

‘I stand with the victims, their families, the people of Sri Lanka and Christians around the world. We must defeat this hatred with unity, love and respect.’

epa07519023 Sri Lankan police investigate the scene after an explosion hit Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 21 April 2019. According to the news reports at least 138 people killed and over 400 injured in a series of blasts during the Easter Sunday service at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade,Shangri-La Hotel and Kingsbury Hotel with many more places. EPA/M.A. PUSHPA KUMARA

A simultaneous explosion hit the Shangri-La luxury hotel in Colombo (Picture: EPA)

epa07518972 A general view showing the damages after an explosion hit Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 21 April 2019. According to the news reports at least 138 people killed and over 400 injured in a series of blasts during the Easter Sunday service at St Anthony's Church in Kochchikade,Shangri-La Hotel and Kingsbury Hotel with many more places. EPA/M.A. PUSHPA KUMARA

More damage was visible at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo (Picture: EPA)

Sri Lankan security personnel stand next to an ambulance outside St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade in Colombo on April 21, 2019 following a blast at the church. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

An ambulance and shattered glass seen outside St. Anthony’s Shrine (Picture: AFP)

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was ‘deeply shocked and saddened’ by the ‘horrifying attacks’.

He added: ‘To target those gathered for worship on Easter Sunday is particularly wicked.’

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: ‘Those affected by the appalling and despicable attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka will be in the prayers of millions marking Easter Sunday around the world today.

‘On this holy day, let us stand with the people of Sri Lanka in prayer, condolence and solidarity as we reject all violence, all hatred and all division.’

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: ‘We are aware of reports of a number of explosions in Sri Lanka, including Colombo, and we are urgently seeking information from the local authorities.

‘British nationals in Sri Lanka should follow the instructions of the local authorities and check FCO travel advice for updates.’

The attacks have been globally condemned and government officials have suggested they are aware of who is being the blasts.

No one has yet claimed responsibility.

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