Asia Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka blasts: Health ministry revises toll from 359 to 253, says some bodies were ‘double-counted’

Colombo: Authorities in Sri Lanka on Thursday revised the toll from Easter bombings down to 253, from the previous figure of 359, explaining that some of the badly mutilated bodies had been double-counted.

The health ministry said medical examiners had completed all autopsies by late Thursday, and had concluded that several victims killed in the series of attacks had been counted more than once.

The official toll released by the police was reduced by 106 after the reconciliation of autopsy and DNA reports, the ministry said in a statement.

Officials explained the incorrect death toll was due to the horrific nature of the explosions and difficulty in gathering body parts. 

“It could be 250 or 260. I can’t exactly say,” Anil Jasinghe, the director general of Sri Lanka’s health services said. “There are so many body parts and it is difficult to give a precise figure.”

Ruwan Wijewardene, Sri Lanka’s deputy defence minister whose ministry is responsible for the island’s police force, said the death toll had been revised due to inaccurate figures provided by the country’s morgues.

“Unfortunately the health ministry provided the earlier number to us,” he said.

Suicide bombers struck hotels and churches in the Colombo area and the eastern city of Batticaloa. Hundreds were injured, officials said. 

Most of those killed were Sri Lankans, but dozens of foreigners were also casualties, officials said. There were a suspected nine attackers.

The authorities have blamed a local Islamist extremist group but say the bombers must have had outside help. 

The Islamic State group said it carried out the attacks but provided no direct evidence.

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