Sri Lanka

Ex-PM flees to naval base as arson attacks in Sri Lanka spread

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has vowed to restore order, in his first national speech since protests began last month.

Ignoring calls to resign, he offered to cede some powers to parliament and name a prime minister, but set no timetable.

His brother quit as PM on Monday amid fury over soaring prices and shortages.

Sri Lankans are desperate as basic items like food and fuel run out or become unaffordable.

World's largest star sapphire cluster found in backyard

A gem trader said the stone was found by workmen digging a well in his home in the gem-rich Ratnapura area.

Experts say the stone, which is pale blue in colour, has an estimated value of up to $100 million in the international market.

The cluster weighs around 510 kilograms or 2.5 million carats and has been named the "Serendipity Sapphire".

"The person who was digging the well alerted us about some rare stones. Later we stumbled upon this huge specimen," Mr Gamage, the owner of the stone, told the BBC.

Fears of environmental disaster as oil-laden ship sinks off Sri Lanka

The Singapore-registered X-Press Pearl had been on fire for almost two weeks before the blaze was put out this week.

Hundreds of tonnes of oil from fuel tanks could leak into the sea, devastating nearby marine life.

The Sri Lankan and Indian navies had worked jointly over the past days in an attempt to put out the fire and prevent the ship from breaking up and sinking.

But rough seas and monsoonal winds hampered the operation, just outside the port of Colombo.

Big win for England

Bairstow hit the winning runs as England claimed the first of the two-match series, but players have little option but to celebrate back at their accommodation near the ground, where they are hunkered down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is something that does take its toll because you're going from a hotel to a cricket ground and back to the hotel," he said.

The players had to quarantine in their hotel rooms after arriving in Sri Lanka and return negative COVID-19 tests before being allowed to start their pre-test preparations.

More than 100 beached whales saved off Sri Lanka

Three pilot whales and one dolphin died of their injuries following the mass beaching near the city of Panadura, south of the capital Colombo.

The rescue was conducted by the navy, with help from environmental protection officers, police and local residents.

It's thought to be the largest stranding in Sri Lanka. It is not known why whales beach themselves.

Local villagers defied a coronavirus curfew to join the navy and coast guard and help push the small whales back into deeper water so they could swim out into the ocean.

Sri Lanka's Pakistan tour in doubt

An armed attack on the Sri Lanka team coach in Lahore in 2009 saw seven team members among the injured, while six policemen and two civilians were killed.

Most of Pakistan's home matches for the past decade have been held in the United Arab Emirates, due to security concerns, but Sri Lanka have agreed to visit on tour, having until now played just one T20 match in the country since the deadly attack.

Three ODIs are scheduled to take place in Karachi on September 27, 29 and October 3, before a series of Twenty20s in Lahore.

Sri Lanka out of Cricket World Cup

England moved up to fourth and onto 10 points with a 31-run victory over India at Edgbaston on Sunday – a first loss of the competition for Virat Kohli's men.

Sri Lanka could match the hosts' tally by triumphing in their last two games against West Indies and India but would remain below them due to an inferior number of wins, which is the first tie-breaker used to separate teams.

South Africa, West Indies and Afghanistan had already been eliminated, with leaders Australia the only team assured of a semi-final berth.

Second Durham rugby player dies in Sri Lanka

Thomas Howard, 25, and Thomas Baty, 26, had been touring the country with Durham-based Clems Pirates RFC when they visited the club in Colombo.

Mr Howard, from Durham, died after being admitted to hospital on Sunday.

Mr Baty, also from Durham, who had been critically ill in the same hospital, has also now died.

Durham City Rugby Football Club, which oversees the team, confirmed Mr Howard died after "suffering breathing problems".

Samoa and Sri Lanka step up to protect the Blue Shark

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is holding its 12th Conference of the Parties in Manila, Philippines which Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Palau and Samoa will be attending.

The CMS had 124 Parties as of July this year, uniting to protect migratory species placed under two different lists.

Appendix 1 lists migratory species that are endangered and Appendix 2 lists migratory species which have an unfavorable conservation status requiring international agreements for their conservation and management.

Sri Lanka prison bus shooting kills seven

Police said five inmates and two guards died in the attack near the town of Kalutara. Nine others are in hospital.

The bus was transporting a prominent underworld suspect and other prisoners to court.

Police say the shooting resulted from a feud between two gangs. The gunmen escaped after spraying the bus with bullets.

Among those killed was Aruna Udayashantha, alias Samayan, who police say was a major underworld figure.

The BBC's Azzam Ameen in Colombo says the shooting is the single deadliest of its kind in Sri Lanka for years.