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11 killed in Lanka hospital shelling

world Updated: Feb 03, 2009 00:37 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sri Lankan hospital hit by shelling

Eleven civilian patients including a 12-year-old boy were killed and at least 20 were injured when a hospital in the embattled north-eastern district Mullaitivu was shelled early on Monday.

The Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital, the only fully equipped one in the entire north, is under the control of the LTTE. Fighting in the area has intensified since the 48-hour deadline served to the rebels by President Mahinda Rajapaksa expired Saturday night.

The victims of shelling were those already under treatment in the hospital for illness and injuries in the war.

Did you know?
The Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital, the only fully equipped one in the entire north, is under the control of the LTTE.
Fighting in the area has intensified since the 48-hour deadline served to the rebels by President Mahinda Rajapaksa expired on Saturday night.

The victims of shelling were those already under treatment in the hospital for illness and injuries in the war. At present, the hospital has four doctors and five nurses to look after 500 patients.

Though the government denied the deaths, the International Committee for Red Cross too released a statement about the dead in the hospital. “We’re shocked that the hospital was hit. Wounded and sick people, medical personnel and medical facilities are all protected by international humanitarian law. Under no circumstance may they be directly attacked,” Paul Castella, head of the Colombo delegation of the ICRC, said.

“The hospital has been caught in the intense battle (after the deadline lapsed). Five shells have fallen inside the hospital since 10-30 last night. One fell in the morning. Two fell in the female ward and the remaining shells in the staying quarters, kitchen and mortuary,’’ T Varadharajah, health services director, told HT over from the hospital.

It was also learnt that the hospital was running out of medicines, even anaesthesia. Bedsheets were being used instead of bandages. The last food-medicine convoy had reached the area on January 16.

Varadharajah did not comment whether the shells were from LTTE or SLA guns. The phone conversation on Monday morning was repeatedly interrupted by the sound of artillery gun fire.

At present, the hospital has four doctors and five nurses to look after 500 patients. Several pregnant women are also admitted. “The doctors and nurses and even patients do not want to stay in the hospital anymore. They are afraid. At least 250 patients need to be immediately transferred to the government hospital in Vavuniya,’’ he said. But the road to the Vavuniya has been closed since Thursday, he said, appealing to the ICRC to make arrangements for transfer.