Search for Sri Lankan gun boat after offshore blast

COLOMBO, Jan 7 (AFP) – A powerful offshore explosion was heard in Sri Lanka’s northeastern port district of Trincomalee early Saturday, shortly after two naval patrol craft put out to sea, police said. COLOMBO, Jan 7 (AFP) – A powerful offshore explosion was heard in Sri Lanka’s northeastern port district of Trincomalee early Saturday, shortly after two naval patrol craft put out to sea, police said. The pre-dawn blast involved at least one of the naval craft with whom radio communication had been lost, and a search was underway, said police in Trincomalee, 260 kilometres (160 miles) northeast of the capital.

“We heard the blast and made inquiries from the navy, but we haven’t got clear answers yet,” a police official in the area said by telephone. “The navy has launched a search.”

Naval officials were not immediately available for comment, but military sources said the authorities were trying to establish contact with the fast attack craft known as P476, which had about a dozen sailors aboard.

Several fishing boats had been in the area at the time of the blast and officials suspected that the naval craft may have been sunk in an attack, the sources said.

Tamil Tiger guerrillas a