COLOMBO - Fireworks sparked a fire at a luxury beach resort in southern Sri Lanka minutes after it was opened by President Maithripala Sirisena, the hotel and local officials said.
Police have already begun an investigation into Wednesday’s incident at the 300-room Shangri-La at Hambantota, the upmarket hotel operator’s first hotel in the island.
"During the festivities, fireworks sparked a fire on a thatched roof covering a pool installation," the group’s Hong Kong-based public relations chief Ilona Yim said.
"No one was hurt and we are thankful for the help of the fire brigade, which was onsite and extinguished the fire within 10 minutes."
The hotel said the president stayed on for a private dinner that was part of the opening at Hambantota, 240km south of the capital Colombo.
"The president had just walked back to the hotel while the fireworks display was still on," his spokesman Dharmasri Bandara said.
Initial reports said the president was immediately evacuated, but his security staff confirmed the president had moved to another location at a different part of the sprawling hotel complex and left the premises after dinner.
Local journalist Easwaran Rutnam, who was covering the hotel’s opening, said the president was about 50m from the structure that was gutted by the fire.
A local police officer said no one was injured during the incident, but an investigation had been launched.
There had been several breaches of security at functions attended by President Sirisena who came to power in January last year. He has dispensed with much of the tight security accorded to his predecessors. — AFP