The Park Street Mews area, full of restaurants, is seen empty in downtown Colombo. Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP
Before bombers targeted Sri Lanka in deadly Easter attacks, Rangana Wijesuriya used to party until the small hours in the pulsating restaurants and clubs of downtown Colombo.
Now, after the April 21 attacks that killed 257 people, the buzz is gone. The DJs are performing to empty dance floors and the bar staff are bored.
"It is usually really crowded and really noisy here. We were shocked to see that it is really empty," Wijesuriya, 26, told on a recent Friday night.
"Usually when we come we stay until morning," she said, the international auditing firm employee and her friend the only diners at a restaurant.
"Colombo's nightlife, for the last couple of years, has been picking up because the tourists arrivals are getting bigger and bigger,
Sri Lanka remains on high alert after bombers targeted three hotels and churches in attacks.
In fact, even though it's only just gone 8:00 pm, the street is such a shadow of its former self that Wijesuriya was thinking of calling it a night.
While before partygoers would have to elbow through 700 or 800 people on a Friday night, now there are barely 20 people on the street. The tapas bar hasn't bothered hiring the usual band.
Every Friday and Saturday night Harpo Gooneratne, a larger-than-life restaurant owner, does the rounds of the places he runs in his chauffeur-driven car.
The pedestrianised Park Street Mews is seen empty . Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP
"Colombo's nightlife, for the last couple of years, has been picking up because the tourists arrivals are getting bigger and bigger," Gooneratne told AFP.
And he's hopeful that things will bounce back.
"It has taken a dip but we are positive that it is going to kick back and it is going to happen. The locals are going to be coming out as soon as possible," he predicted.
At the entrance to Park Street Mews, security guards check visitors' bags for explosives, and concrete blocks have been installed to prevent any attacks with vehicles.
Now sales are down by half and its manager Jean-Charles Toussaint, originally from the southern French city of Montpellier, expects things to remain dire for a while.
"The situation isn't great. But it's understandable, less than two weeks since the attacks. Things will have to get going again slowly," Toussaint said.
Natalie Jayasuria, owner of the Flamingo House building, agrees.
"Sri Lanka is a resilient nation. We fought 30 years of war, we survived that. I believe we can survive anything," she said.
The suicide bombings on churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka - in which nearly 360 people died - now threatens the economy of the island nation that is largely dependent on tourism.
Kithsiri De Silva, the head chef at Sri Lanka’s venerable Kingsbury Hotel, walked through the main restaurant during breakfast Sunday, greeting diners and surveying the extravagant buffet. He would have seen, he thinks now with dread, the guest who moments later detonated a suicide bomb in the middle of the dining room, one of a coordinated sequence of blasts against hotels and churches.
The Sri Lankan and Cypriot authorities have been condemned by their own citizens for failing to deal with mass murderers in their midst. Timely action by Colombo could have saved the lives of 253 people, massacred on the Western Easter Sunday at churches and hotels around the country. The deaths were the highest since Sri Lanka’s civil war ended a decade ago.
One week after the Easter Sunday attacks, Sri Lanka is still in turmoil. As law enforcement and security forces proceed with investigations, and searches throughout the island have uncovered more weapons, fear, confusion and misinformation are rife.
Just 40 minutes after leaving the examination room, she was back at her desk, stunning her family who had rushed to the clinic as well as the invigilators.
Park director Shiv Kumar said: “It appears the tiger strayed into a human settlement area to escape the floods and now appears very tired. We are preparing to tranquillise the tiger.”
Two donkeys were painted black and white to resemble zebras for a safari-themed wedding reception in a Spanish beach town, triggering outrage online, where pictures of the painted donkeys were shared.