Prince Charles arrives in Sri Lanka, visits Batticaloa
[TamilNet, Monday, 28 February 2005, 05:39 GMT]
Britain's Prince Charles arrived in Colombo on Monday morning on a six-hour brief visit amidst tight security. Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, Power and Energy Minister Susil Premajayanth and Deputy Foreign Minister Prof. Viswa Warnapala received the Prince at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) amidst tight security. From the international airport, Charles flew to the Eastern Batticaloa district in a special military helicopter and visited Navalady and Thiruchendoor, two coastal suburbs of Batticaloa town, which were completely devastated by the Tsunami.
The Prince landed in Navalady at 7.10 AM.
Diplomatic sources in Colombo said that the Prince had insisted to visit Batticaloa as he wanted a first hand account from one of the worst affected areas by the tsunami.
The Sri Lanka government, according to media reports in Colombo last week, had initially objected Prince Charles's plan to visit Batticaloa, offering a visit to Trincomalee instead.
Charles, who arrived in Sri Lanka en route on a planned visit to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji islands, was scheduled to meet President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to discuss reconstruction assistance at the President's House, Janathipathi Mandiraya at 11.00 am.
Diplomatic sources said that his brief visit to Sri Lanka was to obtain a first hand account on the tsunami devastation and the reconstruction work assisted by international donors two month after the disaster struck two thirds of the country's coastal belts, killing nearly 40,000 people.
The last time Charles visited Sri Lanka was in 1998 to attend the 50th anniversary of Sri Lanka's independence from Britain.
Volunteers from British Red Cross have been engaged in relief work together with local Red Cross workers in the coastal villages in Batticaloa following the tsunami devastation.