Counting the dead after Sri Lanka suicide attack

DAMBULLA, Oct 17, 2006 (AFP) – Through a narrow doorway leading to the dead, the grim routine of cataloguing the slain from Sri Lanka’s latest suicide bombing ground on late into the night. Dazed young sailors, some smelling of alcohol, crowded round the doorway in a building set apart at one end of the hospital grounds in Dambulla.

Corpses, or pieces of corpses were dragged into the hall in bloodied sheets and tied up in black plastic.

There, a handful of men in camouflage uniforms cross-checked lists of names with tattered identity papers.

Then the bodies were carried out of the makeshift morgue and set down in a yard. Bureaucratic routine had taken over from the madness of earlier hours.

At least 103 people, mostly Sri Lankan sailors who were either heading off on leave or returning to duty, were killed when suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bombers detonated an explosive-filled truck near their buses Monday.

Dambulla hospital was immediately flooded with dead and wounded.

“We had chaos,” said Kapila de Alwis, the hospital’s medical superintendent as another late meeting broke up, leaving a table full of empty water bottles and scraps of paper with figures scr