Pan-Pan! Facebook plea gets Sri Lankan chef off Italy-bound cruise

COLOMBO (Reuters) – A Sri Lankan chef stuck aboard a cruise ship headed to Europe managed to get ashore in Colombo this week after issuing a social media plea for help from his government.

A navy team in special protective suits helped Anura Bandara Herath disembark on Monday on the orders of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after the chef’s appeal on Facebook was picked up by a number of local TV stations.

Herath was working on the MSC Magnifica, which had to abandon a Asia-Pacific cruise and return home to Italy after it was banned by several countries due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The 31-year-old was the only Sri Lankan on board and asked to get off after learning that the ship was scheduled to stop for three hours to refuel and resupply off Colombo.

Sri Lanka has been on lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic and Herath was placed in quarantine in the southern city of Galle for three weeks after leaving the ship. He said there were no cases of coronavirus on board.

“When I am released from here I will go home first and then to the temple,” he told Reuters by phone on Wednesday.

“After that I will find a way to help those affected by the virus. I didn’t earn a lot of money. But I will keep a percentage apart to do that.”

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