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Sunday, 31 March 2013





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Government Gazette

Museum reopens tomorrow

School children go on regular excursions around the country. This was one such excursion.. Over two hundred students from three schools visited the Colombo museum. The museum had just recommenced operations after a daring burglary a few moons ago.Thirty nine schoolchildren including five teachers and four parents were injured when a staircase in the museum collapsed on Thursday. The injured had been admitted to the Colombo National Hospital.

A police source said that the group of school children had at the same time attempted to climb the stairs to enter the first floor. The rickety stircase could not cope with the sudden impulse of the children climbing this staircase.

The injured students were from Sumanajothi Maha Vidyalaya Welimada, Dambarella Maha Vidyalaya, Middeniya and Giriyagama primary school, Galagedara. The Cinnamon Gardens Police has commenced an inquiry into the incident.

The Colombo museum was established on January 1, 1877. Its founder was Sir William Henry Gregory the British Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at the time. Architect J.G. Smither drew the plans for the new structure on the Italian Architectural style. The construction was completed in 1876 and the Museum commenced its functions in 1877.

The construction of the Museum was carried out by Arasi Marikar Wapuchie Marikar (born 1829, died 1925, aka Wapuchi Marikar Bass, who descended from the Sheiq Fareed family, who arrived in Ceylon in 1060 AD), paternal grandfather of Sir Razik Fareed, Kt., JPUM, OBE, MP (born, December 29, 1893, died August 23, 1984).

In January 1877, the Colombo Museum was opened by Governor Gregory. During the period between 1877 and 1999, the museum authorities took steps to display the cultural and natural heritage of the country for this purpose. The principal of Dambarella Maha Vidyalaya, K.A. Ranjan said, "With 126 students, eight teachers and eight parents I organised a school trip. For a long time, these students wanted to visit many significant places in the country. We decided to visit the Kelaniya temple, Biyagama water world, the zoo, the National Museum and the Harbour.

We successfully completed visiting three places . We now wanted to visit the National Museum. After we entered the Museum we had to wait a few minutes in the queue to climb the staircase. We saw students of another school who were gathered on the staircase and the staircase was gradually inclining to a side. My students started to run helter skelter and one girl hit the wall of the museum and she suffered minor injuries. We collected Rs 750 from each student to participate in the trip which included accommodation. We had arranged two buses and promised to pay Rs. 48,000 for transport. Although we could not achieve our goal we are pleased that we returned unharmed."

The Principal of the Galagedara Giriyagama primary school Wimala Dasanayaka told the Sunday observer, with 59 students who were grade 3, 4 and five including seven parents and six teachers I took part in a school trip with a lot of expectations. After visiting Lake House, Rupavahini, Nelumpokuna and Planetarium we visited the National Museum. We were also under the staircase to climb the next floor of the museum. Some schoolchildren had gathered on the staircase and it collapsed. Some students including parents, teachers and I were overrun by the wreckage of the staircase. There were no injured students but a mother of a student was injured and she was rushed to the Colombo General Hospital. Later we came to know that both her legs suffered fractures.

The principal said that they were happy it ended without serious injuries to any one. If it ended with fatal injury the consequences would have been much worse for them having to face the wrath of parents. The teachers said that authorities should look into important aspects, especially the safety and security of visitors and in particular students visiting the museum.

"The Museum will reopen to the public tomorrow", a spokesman for the Museum said.


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