CALGARY – A pair of Calgarians are mourning the loss of three family members killed in a deadly bomb blast in Sri Lanka.
Fernando brothers Sachin, 24, and Dilina ,19, say a few cousins were in St. Sebastian’s church celebrating Easter Sunday when, near the end of the mass, someone walked in and detonated a bomb.
“The information came in chunks,” said Sachin. “First of all, we heard that there was a blast and we knew we had family that attends this church. We tried to reach out to them and it was hard to get in touch with them. After that, we heard they were on their way to the hospital and about 30 minutes later we heard that these three people have passed away.”
Sachin says they don’t know much more as it’s “chaos back home.” One of the Fernandos’ cousins owned a local business and was a father. Another recently went through a kidney transplant.
“He was a really nice person… To survive that [transplant] and then to be taken away in this kind of tragic moment is, yeah,” Sachin trailed off.
“The [one] cousin that passed away was the first one in my generation–he’s about five or six years older than me. It’s really tragic. I grew up with him. I used to play with him in Sri Lanka. It’s surreal.”
Sachin says tourism spiked and people felt safer after the civil war ended in that country a decade ago. He says it’s hard to make sense of such a horrific event.
“Nobody can believe it,” he said.
“I can’t comprehend any reason…to go after children and really innocent and peaceful people. And on Easter Sunday–a very significant event for Catholics. Possibly more significant than Christmas. And in Sri Lanka, they take it very seriously.”
Sachin says one thing that plays over in his mind is why seeing dozens of innocent kids didn’t make the suicide bomber stop and rethink his plan.
“I’m just thinking, as the guy walked into this church, did he not see all these kids?” he asked. “I’m still [processing] it.”
Dilina agrees right now it’s a struggle to “keep it together”.
“Easter Sunday is a big deal for us,” he said. “It’s a lot of build-up to this special day. On Good Friday people often fast, they don’t drink, people stay home and pray. Today’s the day–it’s a day of joy, we’re supposed to celebrate. A day that’s supposed to be joyful is going to become something no one is ever going to forget.”
The brothers say they frequented that church–which Sachin says is named for St. Sebastian, the protector saint for “many people back home”–when they lived in Sri Lanka as it wasn’t far from their home.
“We came to [Canada], but we could’ve just as easily been there.”
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Sachin says he has never seen this type of coordinated massacre, not even during the civil war. “This kind of mindless, reasonless, objectiveless act has never happened.”
He says he and his family won’t be travelling to Sri Lanka to see family for the time being due to safety concerns.
“There might be people who are targeting more public places.”