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Two die, 13 critical after Sri Lanka faith healing

File Photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

AFP Colombo, Sri Lanka Sep 08, 2019, 10.17 PM (IST)

Two people died from heat exhaustion after attending a mass open-air faith healing session in northeast Sri Lanka which left 13 others fighting for their lives, police said Sunday. 

Around 10,000 people, some of whom were seriously ill, had gathered at a school to listen to a man who claimed he could use "powers of the gods and the Buddha" to cure the sick.

Police in the town of Horowupotana, 260 kilometres (162 miles) north-east of Colombo said 18 people were taken to hospital, with 13 in a critical condition.

Officials at the local hospital said the two who died suffered heat exhaustion while others were treated for dehydration. Temperatures have soared to about 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in the area this weekend.

The faith healer, Deegoda Kumara, used his YouTube channel to deny he had caused the deaths and accused local media of causing unrest by spreading mistrust about his work.

In one video, Kumara claimed to have revived a road accident victim who had been in a coma in a Californian hospital. He said he blessed the victim after speaking to her relatives on the phone.

Story highlights

Around 10,000 people, some of whom were seriously ill, had gathered at a school to listen to a man who claimed he could use 'powers of the gods and the Buddha' to cure the sick