Sri Lanka blast: Foreign office issues travel warning to British visitors

Simon Calder
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Sri Lanka blast: Foreign office issues travel warning to British visitors

As Sri Lanka suffers another wave of terror attacks, the Foreign Office has issued emergency phone numbers for the thousands of British tourists on the island, as well as families in the UK concerned about their welfare.

The latest travel advice says: “If you are in Sri Lanka and you are safe, we advise that you contact family and friends to let them know that you are safe.

“If you are in Sri Lanka and have been directly affected by the attacks, please call the main number for the Embassy in Colombo: +94 11 5390639, follow the phone message, and select the emergency option from where you will be connected to one of our consular staff.

“If you’re in the UK and worried about British friends or family in Sri Lanka caught up in the incidents, please call the FCO switchboard number: 020 7008 1500 and follow the same steps.

At around 8.45am local time on Easter Sunday, a coordinated series of explosions at churches and hotels in Colombo and other towns on the island killed more than 100 people.

Around 8,000 British tourists are believed to be in Sri Lanka, as well as several thousand long-term expatriate residents on the island.

In addition, many UK citizens with Sri Lankan heritage are on the island for the Easter break.

The minister of economic reform, Harsha de Silva, tweeted: “Rescue operations underway. Please stay calm and indoors. Many casualties including foreigners.”

The daily SriLankan Airlines flight from Heathrow landed at Colombo airport four hours after the attack began. It had left the UK at 9.30pm on Saturday night.

Kuoni, one of the big UK travel firms to Sri Lanka has confirmed to The Independent that all its guests are safe.

The company has around 100 clients currently in Sri Lanka.

It is telling those due to travel that they will be kept “fully updated on their travel arrangements and options”.

A spokesperson said: “Kuoni can confirm that all guests in Sri Lanka are safe.

“We are monitoring the situation closely alongside our team in Sri Lanka, Abta and the FCO.

“For guests who are in resort we are updating them on the situation and the latest travel advice as it evolves.

“We have advised those due to fly home today that transfers have been brought forward to allow for extra security checks at the airport, which remains open.

“We are guided by the FCO advice and will continue to work closely with our ground agent and the authorities to ensure we keep all customers in resort and those due to travel, fully updated on their travel arrangements and options.”

Until the situation becomes clearer the Foreign Office is not warning against travel to Sri Lanka, and therefore current holidaymakers and those with future bookings to the island are not able to cancel without penalty.

The FCO is issuing updates on Twitter