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Sri Lanka blast victims demand compensation from government

Associated Press Associated Press 17/11/2016 By BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI, Associated Press
Sri Lankans residing in Salawa where their properties were damaged in an explosion in an army camp last July protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. Hundreds of residents from Salawa area have protested to demand the government speed up paying compensation to those whose houses were damaged by an explosion in an army camp five months ago. Placards in Sinhalese reads, "President ! is begging the only option left for us?" (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena) © The Associated Press Sri Lankans residing in Salawa where their properties were damaged in an explosion in an army camp last July protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. Hundreds of residents from Salawa area have protested to demand the government speed up paying compensation to those whose houses were damaged by an explosion in an army camp five months ago. Placards in Sinhalese reads, "President ! is begging the only option left for us?" (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Hundreds of Sri Lankans protested Thursday to demand the government quickly pay compensation to those whose houses were damaged by an explosion at an army camp five months ago.

About 200 demonstrators gathered in front of Colombo's main railroad station to call for swift compensation.

The explosion in June at the Salawa army camp, 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of the capital, killed one soldier. Eight others, including seven civilians, were injured. The explosions sent shrapnel and munitions flying into the surrounding area, damaging 2,031 houses.

Military spokesman Brig. Roshan Seneviratne said soldiers had repaired 1,031 homes with minor damage and handed them back to their owners. He said the compensation process is being handled by district administrative officials.

People whose homes were destroyed are living in rented houses and the government is paying the rent.

Hemantha Rodrigo, the organizer of a victims' group, said the homeowners face hardships because the government has failed to pay compensation as promised. He said some people have received compensation for their houses, but have not been paid to replace household items and equipment.

Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

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