HABARANA, Sri Lanka, Oct 17, 2006 (AFP) – The mobile phones, stowed in bags still on board shattered, blackened buses, rang until dawn as frantic relatives sought news of their sons, Sri Lankan sailors about to come home on leave. “It’s a very terrible situation — more than 100 deaths and now so much to do. It’s very shocking.” Many of those whose families anxiously waited for news would never return, killed instead by Tamil Tiger suicide bombers who detonated a truck packed with explosives next to the hundreds of naval personnel as they lined up to get on buses home.
As dawn broke Tuesday, a day after the island’s worst-ever suicide bombing killed least 103 sailors and wounded 150 more, survivors and colleagues picked through the bloodied debris.
Helmets and flak jackets, many shredded by shrapnel and bloodstained, were tossed into piles while civilian bags were rifled through for clues to their owners.
Some opened letters, others tried to piece together torn identity papers.
All around the ground was littered with the ordinary and the intimate; tins of shoe polish were trampled into the ground and near one torn wallet a single condom packet lay, its foil wrapper glinting in the sunlight.
One sailor, sweating