Sri Lanka President evacuated from Shangri-La fire

ECONOYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena was evacuated on Wednesday from a fire at the Shangri-La beach hotel in Hambantota minutes after he had declared it open.

Embers from fireworks hit a straw-roofed beach hut at the 300-room luxury hotel, which is the first Shangri-La property to open in the island.

An official travelling with the President said he had just walked away from the area and was heading back to the main hotel building when the fire started.

"The President did not want the fireworks to go ahead, but the hotel wanted to put on a good show," the official said asking not to be named.

The President was immediately taken away from the hotel, but a fire fighting truck from his convoy stayed back to fight the fire.

Witnesses said it took about an hour to bring it under control. The fire did not spread to the main building of the luxury beach property.

There was no immediate comment from the hotel, which is located about 240 kilometres (150 miles) south of Colombo.

Announcing the opening on its website, Shangri-La said: "Feel reconnected, energised and enjoy the great outdoors."

A local police official said an investigation was underway into the cause of the fire, as well as security arrangements for the President.
(COLOMBO, June  1, 2016)

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