As a result of the terrorist attacks which occurred over last few days, over 485 casualties were admitted to the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital, Teaching Hospital Batticaloa and District General Hospital Negombo. By 10am yesterday (25), the number of casualties following the above incidents under care in hospitals has reduced to 149.Out of the total of 485 casualties admitted, only around six deaths have occurred following admission to hospitals, which is a point to be proud of the health service of Sri Lanka even at this unfortunate moment. This fact has been praised by foreign media.
On 22nd April, the number of deaths from the attack was reported as 280. The composition of the deaths was as 29 at Teaching Hospital Batticaloa, 102 at District General Hospital Negombo, 07 at Colombo North Teaching Hospital, 03 at Colombo South Teaching Hospital and 140 at the Mortuary of the Chief Judicial Medical Officer of Colombo.
During bomb explosions like these, some bodies of the deceased are gravely damaged while some are severed into body parts which cannot be identified as complete bodies. Since there was a difficulty in counting the exact number of dead bodies, the number of deaths was reported as an approximate figure daily.
The dead bodies were handed over to the relatives very fast in all hospitals except at the Mortuary of the Chief Judicial Medical Officer of Colombo. Even in the Mortuary of the Chief Judicial Medical Officer of Colombo, Consultant Judicial Medical Officers, Magistrates,and other staff are on duty round the clock, however, due to the complex nature of the dead bodies brought here, relatively extended periods are needed to release these dead bodies to the relatives. Reasons for delay could be attributed to dead bodies of all foreign nationals being brought here and the extent of the severing of bodiesto pieces being relatively more following hotel attacks in the three hotels in Colombo. Also, the relatives of the foreign nationals should come from overseas to handover the bodies; If not the bodies need to be identified by the Embassies of the relevant countries. Further, determination of the dead body being of a foreign national or not could be done by the skin color. However, this could not be done precisely for the dead bodies of persons of Asian origin.
Under these circumstances, correcting the initial estimates done at the Mortuary of the Colombo Chief Judicial Medical Officer, the number of dead bodies has reduced to 114 as per yesterday (25). Further, the initial number of dead bodies was 29 at the Teaching Hospital Batticaloa. Nevertheless, this has finally reduced to 26, due to the same reasons. These are technical corrections under the circumstances.
Therefore, as per yesterday (25), the number of persons who died following last Sunday attacks are around 253. Hence, the number of deaths has reduced to 253 from our initial estimate of 290, in contrast to the 359 dead bodies reported by media. The Ministry of Health never reported death toll as 359.
Dr. Anil Jasinghe
Director General of Health Services