A pregnant Sri Lankan woman, who had been in a queue for two days to obtain a passport to leave the crisis-hit country for employment overseas, went into labour while waiting for her turn on Thursday and delivered a baby girl.
Sri Lanka Army personnel stationed at the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo noticed the 26-year-old woman in labour at the premises on Thursday morning and rushed her to the Castle Hospital where she delivered the baby, officials said.
The woman along with her husband from the central hills had been in the queue for the last two days to obtain a passport to take up a job overseas.
Since the economic crisis kicked in during late January, long queues to obtain passports were seen regularly at the passport office. Most of the people have opted to obtain passports in the ‘one day issue service’.
Meanwhile, another person, who was waiting at a fuel queue, died of a heart attack this morning, the fifteenth such death in a fuel queue since March.
The 60-year-old ice cream seller on a three wheeler had spent two continuous days in the queue for fuel at Payagala south of here. He developed chest pain while in the queue and was rushed to a hospital where he was declared brought dead.
Long queues for fuel are now seen leading to the Indian Oil Company’s LIOC retail pumps in the country.
The state fuel entity CPC pumps dried up 10 days ago with no information on supply ships arriving in the country.
The LIOC, which runs over 200 pumping stations, now makes limited issues by using its supplies from their storage tanks in the eastern district of Trincomalee.
Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament on Wednesday that until the arrival of a ship from the IOC, no fuel carrying vessels were available until July 22. Therefore, to meet the shortage, the government opted to pay a higher price and ordered a shipment to be able to reach by July 15.
Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since its independence from Britain in 1948, and needs to obtain at least USD 4 billion to tide over the acute shortage in foreign exchange reserves.
The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026. Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.
The Sri Lankan economy has virtually come to a grinding halt after it has run out of foreign exchange reserves to import fuel.
Sri Lankans continue to languish in long fuel and cooking gas queues as the government is unable to find dollars to fund imports.