More Thrills than Skills – A Half-life in Journalism, Part 95

Over the next few weeks, is to publish, each weekday, extracts from the memoirs of Scottish war correspondent, Paul Harris. ‘More Thrills than Skills: A Half-life in Journalism’, is being scheduled for publication next year.

Within minutes of the explosion, Colombo seized up as army trucks, police, ambulances and rescue services converged on the commercial area. I abandoned my car, engaged a trishaw and then ran into a maelstrom of fire, debris and death.

In the area of the explosion in those minutes following it, visibility was reduced almost to zero. Thick black smoke billowed everywhere and – through the thick, choking fog – flames roared from windows, the heat searing your skin. On the edge of the commercial district, bedrooms in the ultra-modern Intercontinental Hotel on the second and third floors were well alight: the service wing at the back was totally shattered and ablaze.