Friends mourn loss of mother and daughter in Sri Lanka


There has been an outpouring of grief in Victoria's Sri Lankan community as friends of Manik Suriaaratchi and daughter Alexendria mourn the loss of a mother and her child taken in tragic circumstances.

The Sri Lankan community in Victoria is mourning the deaths of mother Manik Suriaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter Alexendria, who were killed in the Easter Sunday terrorist bombings in Colombo.

The mother and daughter, both dual Australian and Sri Lankan citizens, were attending Sunday mass at St Anthony's in Sri Lanka's capital when a bomb exploded.

The pair are among hundreds of lives lost in the eight terrorist bombings in and around Colombo.

The news of their deaths has shaken many in Victoria's Sri Lankan community, who knew the family well from when they lived in Melbourne.

Sudesh Kolonne, the father and husband of the Australian victims of the Sri Lanka terror attacks.
Sudesh Kolonne, the father and husband of the Australian victims of the Sri Lanka terror attacks.
SBS News

The Subasinghe family knew the Suriaraatchis very well and have countless fond memories of spending time with both mother and daughter before they moved back to Sri Lanka to care for a family member.

At just 10-years-old Zoanne Subasinghe is grappling with losing her best friend Alexandria.

Zoanne remembers the fun she had at Alexandria's 5th birthday and still has the piano Manik and Alexandria gave her before they left for Sri Lanka.

She says Alex used to come over and play games with her and her little sister.

“She was very close to me and I remember when she came to play with us, she would play in our garden," she said.

"She would play with us."

Zoanne's mother, Sohara Subasinghe was overwhelmed when she heard the news Manik and Alexendria had been killed.

She says she is holding her daughters extra tight, as the woman she called Akki, or older sister, is buried alongside her only child in Negombo.

“She would have done lots of things to Sri Lanka, mainly because Sri Lanka needs a lady like her, who could stand for so many good causes and her daughter Alex would have been the same I'm sure," she said.

Husband of Manik and father to Alexandria, Sudesh Suriaraatchi had been parking their family car outside the church when the explosion occurred.

Sri Lanka terror attacks
Around the world, people are mourning.

A close friend of the family and of Sudesh, Fahim Mawjood is flying to Sri Lanka on Wednesday to support his friend as he grieves the loss of his wife and daughter.

Mr Mawjood says the terrorist attack has stolen his friends family from him.

“I can't think of how he feels. At this time we have to be with him, supporting him. He doesn’t have a family, now he lost his wife and he lost his only child," he said.

Close friends for over 10 years, Mr Mawjood wife Fatima says although their faiths differed their friendship had no boundaries. 

“Welcoming people, very loving. Even though we follow two different religions but we respect each other. We spend Christmas with them and they come to my house for birthday parties. And we spent a lot of time together," she said.

A similar message, of love and respecting differences, is being spread by religious leaders across the country in the wake of the Sri Lankan bombings.

St Anthony’s in Melbourne’s east was where Manik Suriaaratchi and her family would come to light a candle in their devotions.

Although many of the Suriaaratchi's friends in Australia are of other faiths, over the last few days they have visited the church, to light candles in memory of both mother and daughter.

Catholic Archdiocese Bishop Mark Edwards says in the wake of such terror, it is important for the community, regardless of faith, to come together to grieve and pay homage to the lives lost.

“Something like this makes me realise that this is a really small world and we that we're connected. I invite and encourage people to pray for them and those who've died and those who've been left behind and it would be particularly nice to do it by lighting candles," he said.

An action both opposition leader Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have taken on board, with both leaders expressing their condolences to the Sri Lankan community abroad and in Australia.

Scott and Jenny Morrison visit a Sri Lankan temple in Melbourne.
PM Scott Morrison says love will help Sri Lanka heal after a devastating series of terrorist bombs.

Mr Morrison says the Australian Federal Police will also be helping Sri Lankan authorities with their investigations so that those responsible for the cowardly terrorist attacks are held accountable.

“The Sri Lankan Government has responded to our offer for the A-F-P to provide assistance in the investigation and that's been confirmed overnight and so our counter-terrorism officers will be involved in that and we're very happy to provide that assistance," Mr Morrison said.

The announcement comes as a British couple living in Perth are named as amongst the deceased.

Western Australia's Premier Mark McGowan expressing his condolences on Twitter for Dr Sally Bradley and her husband Bill Harrop.

Mr McGowan describing them as hardworking and valued members of the Western Australian community.

The news of Dr Bradley's death came as a shock to Executive Director of Rockingham Peel Group and former colleague, Kathleen Smith.

Ms Smith says all who had worked with Dr Bradley were deeply saddened when they heard.

"Shock, devastation. I'm trying to keep everybody else’s spirits up within the hospital. There's a general sadness across the hospital today, she was very well respected, very well respected, very balanced, caring," Ms Smith said.

Hundreds of lives taken, millions more affected as the tragedy of the Sri Lankan attacks echoes across the world.

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