April 23, 2019 21:37:04
An Australian woman and her daughter who were killed in the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka had planned to move back to Melbourne next year.
- Manik Suriaaratchi and her daughter Alexendria were Australian citizens who lived in Melbourne for many years
- They returned to Sri Lanka in 2014 to care for Ms Suriaaratchi’s mother
- At least 321 people were killed and 500 injured in a series of coordinated blasts in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Sunday
Australian citizens Manik Suriaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter Alexendria were killed when a bomb exploded in a church in Negombo, north of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo.
Ms Suriaaratchi’s husband, Sudesh Kolonne, told the ABC he had just walked out of the church ahead of his wife and daughter after the service when the bomb blast tore through the building.
At least 321 people were killed and 500 injured in a series of coordinated blasts in churches and hotels, in Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended in 2009.
Melbourne restaurateur Dee Wedande, who runs St Kilda Sri Lankan restaurant Araliya with her husband Sam, said Ms Suriaaratchi had worked for the couple in various restaurants and cafes over a period of more than eight years while she was studying.
“She was a very flamboyant girl — you couldn’t say no to her,” Ms Wedande said.
“Manik was a very hard worker, very articulate [with a] high intellect.”
As she served customers at the restaurant on Saturday night, Ms Wedande received a message from her cousin that Ms Suriaaratchi and her daughter had been caught up in the attacks.
“It was too much of a shock, because she’s this girl with a lot of life in her,” Ms Wedande said.
She called her son in London, who is Alexendria’s godfather.
“He said ‘no, Mum, it can’t be true because I just spoke to her like a week ago’.”
Her son told her Ms Suriaaratchi — who had returned to Sri Lanka in 2014 to care for her mother and start a consultancy business — had planned to move back to Australia with her daughter next year, and had enrolled Alexendria in a Melbourne school.
“They were coming back to live again in Melbourne,” Ms Wedande said.
Mr Wedande described Ms Suriaaratchi as “a woman who wanted to achieve a lot of things”.
“She wanted to promote Sri Lanka, trying to help the country in her little way.
“I didn’t expect her to be dead, she was too strong a woman to be a dead woman.
“I thought she could beat that bullet or that bomb and walk away from it, that’s the sort of character she had.”
He described Alexendria as a “very cute, very talkative” girl who loved cartoons.