'I was tired, that morning, when I was at my house, I heard a sound, and then people were saying a bomb had gone off at the church. I rushed there, and I'll never forget the scene.'
Expressing dismay and shock at the multiple bomb blasts that killed and injured hundreds of people in Sri Lanka, the country's former cricketers Chaminda Vaas and Rangana Herath on Tuesday said the need of the hour is to stay strong and united.
Sri Lankan authorities arrested 24 people in connection with the multiple blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in the island nation on Easter Sunday, killing over 290 people and injuring around 500 others.
"So sad to see. We never thought these kind of things will happen in Sri Lanka. It is a lovely country and hospitable. People are very friendly. It is so tragic to see such things happen," Vaas said in Mumbai on Tuesday.
"We need to rebuild. We can rebuild churches or hotels but we can't bring lives back. I am sure the Sri Lankan government and the people will be very united this time and make sure that we stick together," said the former left arm pacer who scalped 400 ODI and 355 Test wickets in his illustrious career.
Herath, one of the best left arm spinners of his time, said his country needs to stay strong during such times.
"We need to convey our deepest sympathies and condolences. As Chaminda said, we are a united country. We kind of have a panic situation but (we are sure that) we (will) become a strong country," he added.
Vaas expressed confidence that the situation would be normal again in Sri Lanka.
"This attack can happen anywhere in the world. We saw in New Zealand recently as well. These people don't have simply one place (and) they can attack anywhere in the world. I am pretty sure that things will go back to normal," Vaas remarked.
'I rushed there, and I'll never forget the scene'
Sri Lankan cricketer Dasun Shanaka revisited the Easter Sunday horror, the serial blasts that took place in the country on Sunday, leaving almost 300 people dead and more than 500 injured.
"Normally I would have gone to church but the day before I had gone to Anuradhapura, so I was tired, that morning, when I was at my house, I heard a sound, and then people were saying a bomb had gone off at the church. I rushed there, and I'll never forget the scene," ESPNCricinfo quoted Shanaka, as saying on Monday.
"The entire church was destroyed, absolutely shattered, and people were dragging lifeless bodies outside," he added.
The 27-year old Sri Lankan all-rounder said that he first started looking for his mother and grandmother following the blast whereas his friends stayed behind to help others.
"My first instinct was to look for my mother. Once I spotted her, I took her away from the area. Then I began looking for my grandmother, but when I heard that she had been sitting inside, my heart sank, if you saw the scene, you would know there was no way anyone inside could have survived because simply the debris from the blast had injured everyone even in the vicinity," he said.
"When I went looking for my grandmother, I wasn't expecting to find her alive. But, as it turned out, the blast had hit and killed those around her, but she had been protected from severe damage by the bodies of the others," Shanaka said. "In the end, she was hurt badly having been hit in the head with shrapnel, but we were able to take her to hospital for surgery," he added.
Eight explosions rattled various suburbs in Sri Lankan cities of Colombo, Negombo, Kochchikade and Batticaloa as the Christian community celebrated Easter Sunday.
A national emergency was declared in Sri Lanka in the wake of the deadly blasts. (ANI)