Ex intelligence chief linked to probe on Hambantota hotel fire

fire-probeAn investigation launched over what seemed to be an accidental fire during the opening of a 5-star hotel in Hambantota last week, is said to include the role played by a former intelligence chief, who is now a security consultant of the hotel.

Sources said that the investigators probing the fire at the opening ceremony of the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in Hambantota, which was attended by President Maithripala Sirisena, are looking at the advice given by former intelligence chief Kapila Hendawitharana.

Hendawitharana, who was the State Intelligence Chief when Mahinda Rajapaksa was President, had been recruited by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in Hambantota as a security consultant.

The Sunday Leader reported that prior to the opening of the hotel last Wednesday night President Maithripala Sirisena’s office had advised against staging a fireworks display, especially since the country is still recovering from a major natural disaster.

However the fireworks display went ahead and the heavy wind blew some remains of the fireworks onto a thatched roof which caught fire while President Sirisena was watching from inside the hotel.

The President was taken inside as hotel staff struggled to extinguish the fire. A fire truck, which was part of the President’s convoy, was later used to douse the flames before another fire truck reached the scene.
No one was injured in the fire but the whole incident took the glitter out of the major celebration.

A special police investigation was immediately launched into the fire including into a possible breach of security at an event attended by the President and Government Ministers.

Police investigators cordoned-off the area from where the fireworks were lit and on Thursday morning they conducted investigations at the site. (Colombo Gazette)

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