May 3, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s World Cup cricketers returned to an elaborate welcome Thursday after being stranded in London following Tamil Tiger rebel air raids in Colombo, officials said on Tuesday. The team was received at the VIP lounge of the Bandaranaike International airport where Buddhist monks, Hindu and Catholic priests and Muslim clerics conducted services to bless them.
Officials said they returned on Qatar airlines after the Emirates airline on which they were originally booked pulled out of Colombo after Sunday’s Tamil Tiger air attacks near the airport.
Sri Lanka Cricket, which had organised elaborate plans to welcome the cricketers who reached the final in the Caribbean, said another welcome ceremony had been arranged in the city, 35 kilometres (21 miles) away.
Emirates and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific suspended their flights to Sri Lanka following Sunday’s air raids. The guerrillas used two light aircraft to bomb two fuel depots near Colombo after crossing Colombo’s airspace.
Sri Lanka lost to Australia in Saturday’s final in Barbados. .