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In Sri Lanka, As The Economic Crisis Worsens, 2 Deadly Men Wait In Line For Fuel

Sri Lanka has struggled to find dollars to pay for increasingly expensive fuel shipments since Jan.

Colombo:

Sri Lankan police said on Sunday two men collapsed and died while waiting in separate queues to get fuel amid soaring prices leading to record inflation.

The man, in his seventies, died as they waited for petrol and kerosene in two different parts of the country, police spokeswoman Nalin Thalduwa said in the commercial capital Colombo.

For weeks people lined up at pumps, often for hours, and the country has experienced power outages.

“A 70-year-old three-wheeler driver who has diabetes and heart disease while the other is 72 years old, both have been waiting in line for about four hours for fuel,” Thalduwa said.

On Sunday Sri Lanka suspended operations at its only fuel refining plant after crude oil stocks ran out, said General Petroleum Workers Union president Ashoka Ranwala.

The energy ministry could not be reached immediately for comment.

Kerosene consumption has increased after low -income families began switching from cooking gas due to rising prices. On Sunday Laugfs Gas, the country’s second -largest supplier raised the price by 1,359 rupees ($ 4.94) for a 12.5 kg cylinder, the company said in a statement.

Sri Lanka has struggled to find dollars to pay for increasingly expensive fuel shipments since January, with its foreign currency reserves declining to $ 2.31 billion in February.

In February, Sri Lankan inflation hit 15.1%, among the highest in Asia, with food inflation soaring to 25.7%, the latest government data showed.

Earlier this month Sri Lanka’s central bank floated the rupee causing the currency to plunge more than 30% to trade at about 275 rupees per US dollar.

The price of powdered milk rose by 250 rupees ($ 0.90) for a 400g pack on Saturday, prompting restaurant owners to raise the cost of a cup of milk tea to 100 rupees.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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