A 63-year-old truck driver died in Sri Lanka after queuing for five days at a petrol station in the country’s Western Province, the 10th death reported due to a prolonged wait for fuel supplies in the indebted island nation grapples with the worst economic crisis since its independence, according to a media report on Thursday.
The man was found dead inside his vehicle after queuing at the Anguruwatota gas station, police said.
The death toll in the queues now stands at 10 and all the victims are men aged between 43 and 84. The majority of deaths reported in queues are due to cardiac arrest, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.
A week ago, a 53-year-old man died while waiting in line for several hours at a Panadura petrol station in Colombo. The man is said to have died of a heart attack as he waited in the queue in his three-wheeler.
Sri Lanka, home to around 22 million people, is currently facing its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years. Sri Lanka’s economy is experiencing extreme fuel shortages, soaring food prices and a shortage of medicines.
Current shortages have been compounded by the government’s inability to convince the state-owned Bank of Ceylon to open letters of credit for fuel imports.
In order to deal with fuel shortages and the resulting transport difficulties, public sector employees are allowed to consider Fridays as public holidays from June 17, the Ministry of Public Administration said in a circular. . This will be in effect for the next three months.
A special leave was granted on Friday for all schools due to transport difficulties. Private bus operators said they were running only 20% of services due to fuel shortages.
State employees are encouraged to engage in agricultural activities to grow food during the Friday holiday to alleviate the perceived food crisis ahead.
The country is experiencing long queues for refueling at gas stations as the government struggles to fund fuel imports to maintain a sufficient reserve for at least three months. A shift to fuel rationing is to be implemented from next month as the forex crisis deepens.
In an unusual move, US and UN envoys here on Sunday urged Sri Lankan security forces to understand the frustration of citizens who spend hours in long queues for essentials, and have stressed the need to promptly investigate any excessive use of force. against the public.
The call for the two envoys came a day after a clash between people and soldiers in a queue for fuel in Vishvamadu, Mullaitivu.
The country on the brink of bankruptcy, with an acute foreign exchange crisis that led to a foreign debt default, announced in April that it was suspending repayment of nearly $7 billion in foreign debt owed for this year on about $25 billion due through 2026.
Sri Lanka’s total external debt stands at $51 billion.
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