Sri Lanka mourners jump into grave to escape wasps

ECONOMYNEXT – Pallbearers jumped into a grave in Sri Lanka’s tea-growing central region to escape a wasp attack, but were stung badly and required hospitalisation, local officials said on Monday.

Eight people, including a child, were admitted to two hospitals in the region after Friday’s attack on mourners carrying the coffin of a 79-year-old man at a tea plantation, hospital sources and police said.

The swarm descended on a funeral procession near the town of Pussellawa on the same day Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the region to address tea workers during his overnight visit to Sri Lanka.

"Mourners, including the pallbearers, abandoned the coffin on the road and jumped into the grave," a police source said. "They were the ones badly stung."

The wasps may have been provoked by the bursting of fire crackers in line with local rituals, officials said, adding that the burial proceeded several hours behind schedule after the victims were rushed to hospital.

Earlier last week, two wasp nests were removed from the same region as part of security for the Indian Prime Minister. There was a risk that helicopters landing nearby could stir the nests and provoke an angry response.

Modi left Sri Lanka on Friday evening without his visit being marred by wasps. However, 50 Buddhist devotees were stung by wasps and admitted to hospital elsewhere the day before Modi arrived in Sri Lanka.
(COLOMBO, May 15, 2017)

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