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Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 18:31 UK

Sri Lankan doctor describes shelling

A doctor at the Sri Lankan hospital where at least 49 people died in an artillery attack has described the bombardment for the BBC.

Dr T Varatharaja of Mullivaikal's hospital was speaking to Chandana Keerthi Bandara of the BBC's Sinhala Service.


"Yesterday night and today [Tuesday] there was heavy shelling in the safe zone. Early in the morning around 0740 [0210 GMT], a shell fell on the hospital. Twenty nine people were killed instantly and more than 86 injured civilians have been admitted to the ward. Another 20 people died as a result of their injuries, because the treatment area doesn't have enough surgical necessities and blood bags. Another problem is that the heavy shelling is continuing up till now. The staff can't work because of the fear.

"The shells are falling in the hospital area and everywhere, so most of the time me and other staff go to the bunker, where the shell sound is reduced. Then we come to work and when the shelling starts again we go back to the bunker. It's difficult to treat patients and many people are dying because of that.

"One of our main staff, Mr Paramagunasingham, who is an administrative officer, has died in that same blast. He had arranged for the patients to go to the ICRC. The ICRC came today. The shelling was going on and they kept waiting. They said that they couldn't take the people today and that they would come tomorrow.

"The shell that fell on the hospital came from the Puthukkudiyiruppu side, where the [Sri Lankan] army are.

"The situation is difficult to explain. There is no food, no water supply, no toilet facilities, no safe area. They are staying under the trees, everywhere. We need more than 400 or 500 tonnes of food a week, but we are receiving only 60 tonnes. And there's only rice and dahl. It's not enough for these people. There's no milk formula for the children, no vegetables, no meat, nothing.

"The fighting is still going on from both sides. They [civilians] are maybe prevented [from leaving] because of the fighting."



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