Dutch to fly tourists home from Sri Lanka within days
AFP – Hundreds of Dutch tourists will be flown home in the coming days from Sri Lanka in the wake of the Easter bombings, according to the guarantee scheme governing Dutch tour operators.
Following the attacks, which killed 253 people, around 500 Dutch visitors who remain in Sri Lanka will be flown home "within days," the director of the Calamiteitenfonds group said Friday.
"We are currently in consultations with affiliated organisations," said Erik Jan Reuvere, whose fund acts as insurer and coordinator for tour operators in times of crisis.
"We estimate between 400 and 500 people are travelling in Sri Lanka under our guarantee," Reuvere told AFP. He said they would be flown home either on scheduled flights or a "probable" charter operated by the TUI group on Monday.
The repatriation comes after the Dutch foreign ministry late Thursday recommended only essential trips be made to the island, citing the potential danger of further attacks by fugitive terrorists.
The ministry warned the security situation on the island remained "unpredictable and uncertain".
"The foreign ministry informed us there was no serious danger but that it was reasonable to (recommend) breaking off trips and for travellers to return to the Netherlands," said Reuver.
At least 253 people died Sunday when attackers blew themselves up at several churches and hotels in blasts which officials have blamed on local Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.
Three of the fatalities were Dutch nationals, two of them also holding Swiss citizenship.