Murali and fiancee escape killer waves
By Marlon Fernandopulle
Sri Lanka's champion off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and his bride-to-be Madhi from South India, who were driving along the coastal line last Sunday were heading towards a village in the South escaped from the deadly Tsunami waves only by a whisker.

Muralitharan left Colombo in the morning to Seenigama, a village about 90 km south off the capital, as he was to distribute essential school items to 100 school children.

The ceremony was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Colombo North which is led by Jean Samuel and co-ordinated by Muralitharan's manager Kushil Gunasekera's Foundation for Goodness.

Speaking to the Sunday Times Kushil Gunasekera said: "Murali along with his bride-to-be Madhi and her mother together with Murali's mother and brother were expected at Seenigama around 10.30 for the scholarship award ceremony.

However for some reason or the other Murali got delayed by about 20-30 minutes and that probably saved him". Murali said of his brush with disaster, "It was somewhere near Kalutara that we noted that the sea was becoming restless and we were forced to return."

When asked why he delayed to leave for the ceremony Murali replied,"It was nothing in particular but I just overslept." However Gunasekera said that a bus load of around 50 children who were the recipients of the scholarships along with their parents who were on their way to Seenigama were killed in the tragedy.

"At the time of the incident about 50 other children had already arrived and were seated in the Community Hall awaiting the arrival of Murali. Suddenly we realised that giant waves were surging towards the hall and ran for our dear lives.

It was unbelievable. We had to run with gigantic waves chasing us". Gunasekera confirmed that practically the entire village of Seenigama was destroyed and most of the villagers were killed. "We buried eight more bodies today with the help of the Sri Lanka Army", said Gunasekera who is co-ordinating relief operations in Seenigama.

Meanwhile Muralitharan who is also a UN Goodwill Ambassador, visited Jaffna on Friday to assist in the World Food Programme. According to Murali around 8,000 are believed to be confirmed as dead and a further 12,000 missing in Jaffna.

The off spinner is expected to visit Trincomalee,Galle, Matara and Hambantota this week as part of his mission with the United Nations. Muralitharan is being assisted by his employer Janashakthi Insurance and East West Marketing in his humanitarian work.


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