Wadduwa party deaths still a mystery

Panadura Additional Magistrate Kalhari Liyanage conducted the magisterial inquiry into the death of three youths. Picture by Sampath Kularatne

The fourth person admitted to the Panadura Hospital after becoming seriously ill during a beach party held in Wadduwa had died yesterday (6). The deceased was a 28-year-old from the Pothuhera area, Police Media Spokesman’s Office said.

The Panadura Division OIC told Daily News that the post-mortem examination on three deceased was conducted and an open verdict was issued.

Four people were admitted to the Panadura Hospital after a party held at a hotel in Wadduwa on August 4.

Three of the four persons had died by Sunday (5) and it was suspected that they died after they ingested a poisonous substance.

According to the Panadura Hospital medical authorities, the three bodies indicated abnormal high temperature and heart rate.

An employee of the hotel said the heat in the hall where the party was, was very high and only two big fans functioned. The hotel authorities said they provided the hall and a private company organised the rest.

Police sources said the three deceased were 37-year-old Eranga Kumara from Kesbewa, 21-year-old Melan Chamika from Divulapitiya and 31-year-old Viduranga Deshan from Moronthuduwa,Kalutara.

Two victims passed away Sunday morning (August 5) and the other in the afternoon of the same day.

The party had commenced on August 4 evening and continued until wee hours of August 5, the sources said.

The Police Spokesperson’s Office said the party organised by a private event management company had been attended by about 2,000 people. The company had widely advertised the event through social media and attracted many youngsters from around the country. A renowned Israeli performer was scheduled to perform at the event, the sources said.

An eye-witness said the hall where the party was, was very hot and people were drenched in sweat. He said that towards Sunday morning, many were sprawled on the floor. The post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday (6) at the Panadura Hospital. The Panadura Division OIC told Daily News that body parts of the deceased were sent to the government analyst. The OIC said that scene of the incident was sealed off until the government analyst is brought there to inspect the location.

The post-mortem examination of the 4th person was still carried out by late yesterday evening.

Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said that police sniffer dogs had also employed to carry out a search operation to determine if any drug had been used at the function. But no trace of any drug was found, he said

“The IGP has instructed to take every possible measure to determine what had caused the deaths of the four youths. The Government Analyst will be visiting the venue today (7) to examine the premises. The post-mortem was held and an open verdict was issued pending further investigation,” SP Gunasekara said.

Law and Order Minister Ranjith Maddumabandara said the government will curb the drug menace in the country and island-wide raids are conducted to arrest drug smugglers. He said that many of these drug smugglers and drug rings are coming to light with the strengthened government effort to curb the menace. He said the government will carry on its onslaught on the narcotic operations and those responsible and found guilty would not be spared.

Police said they had not come across any evidence to suggest that the participants in the party had used drugs. The Police Spokesman said that this does not rule out the possibility.

He said that if the excessive heat was the cause of the death as suggested, then there should have been many other casualties. He said it was doubtful the excessive heat caused the deaths.

He said reasons that caused the deaths were not found yet and a definite reason be determined only after investigating all possibilities. He said the event management company is a reputed and registered company. “We have not detected anything illegal or suspicious so far and we have to wait until all the investigations are complete,” SP Gunasekara said. 

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