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  Words in the News
  Sri Lanka is counting the costs following an attack by rebel Tamil Tigers on the country's only international airport, in which 18 people were killed and many more injured. The BBC's correspondent in Colombo Frances Harrison reports.
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Sri Lanka map

25th July 2001

Sri Lanka airport attack

  Audio Listen to the first part of the report

It's taken the Sri Lankan authorities longer than they thought to clear the smouldering wreckage of aircraft from the one runway at the international airport. Six passenger planes were set on fire by rebel mortars and suicide bombers. The ash had to be removed from the tarmac less it clog the engines of the planes, endangering passengers who've already been through a harrowing ordeal.

The tourist board has asked hotels in the capital to give free accomodation to tourists who were caught up in the fighting, between the Sri Lankan military and Tamil Tiger rebels. But there are concerns this will damage the country's important tourism industry, which had seen record numbers of visitors last month.

    Audio Listen to the words

smouldering - if something smoulders, it burns slowly producing smoke but no flame

wreckage - when a car, building or plane has been destroyed, what remains is the wreckage

set on fire - start something burning

ash - the grey powder that remains after something has burned

the tarmac - the airport runway where planes land and take off

clog - if something clogs an engine or other machine it blocks it so that it cannot work properly

endangering - putting in danger

a harrowing ordeal - a very nasty, unpleasant experience

caught up in - if you are caught up in something, you are involved in something which is not in your control

NEWS 2    Audio Listen to the second part of the report

It's estimated there's been up to half a billion US dollars worth of damage to aircraft and infrastructure. In terms of economic cost, this is the worst attack inflicted by the rebels in two decades of civil war. There will also be embarassing questions for the defence establishment about how a handful of rebels managed to penetrate one of the most strongly fortified bases in the country.

    Audio Listen to the words

infrastructure - the infrastructure of a country or an organisation is the structure and services which help it to function properly

inflicted - if you inflict something unpleasant on someone, you make them suffer

a handful - a small number

penetrate - enter

strongly fortified - not easy to attack because it is surrounded by strong walls, fences, guns etc.

    Read about the background to this story in BBC News Online

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