Breaking News Emails
Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Yuliya Talmazan, Caroline Radnofsky and Brooke Glatz
An American on a work trip to Sri Lanka remained unaccounted for Monday following deadly blasts that shook the island nation.
Dieter Kowalski, 40, of Denver, Colorado, was staying at the Cinnamon Grand, which was one of three hotels hit by Easter Sunday explosions that killed at least 290 people and injured 500 more.
The hotel confirmed to NBC News that Kowalski was a guest there and had not been heard from since the attack.
Kowalski, who is originally from Wisconsin, posted on Facebook Friday that said he was flying to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
“And the fun begins,” he wrote. “Love these work trips. 24 hours of flying. See you soon Sri Lanka!”
Kowalski’s LinkedIn page lists him as a senior technical operations lead for Pearson, a major education publishing and assessment firm.
Six nearly simultaneous blasts took place Sunday at the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels in Colombo, as well as three churches. Police later reported two further explosions.
The explosions occurred during Sunday church services or while Easter brunch was being served at the hotels.
The blasts collapsed ceilings and blew out windows. Authorities said the attacks were carried out by seven suicide bombers and 24 suspects had been arrested.
Sri Lanka’s government said the bodies of at least 27 foreigners had been recovered. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday several U.S. citizens were among those killed.
Staff at a hospital in Colombo told NBC News that they treated an American woman identified as Chimai Tran-Luu, adding that she was later discharged.
Sri Lankan authorities confirmed Monday that they were warned about a terrorist plot targeting churches and tourist destinations weeks ago.
“We never expected it to be so big,” Hemasiri Fernando, the chief of staff to Sri Lankan’s president, told NBC News. “We never thought it would happen so soon.”