125-year-old piano ‘destroyed’ after protestors capture Sri Lankan president’s private residence

20 July 2022, 12:33 | Updated: 20 July 2022, 12:47

Two days after protesters stormed the President's house in Sri Lanka
Two days after protesters stormed the President's house in Sri Lanka. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has controversially been elected Sri Lanka’s president, said an old piano and thousands of books were destroyed after protestors torched his private residence.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The home of Sri Lanka’s now-president Ranil Wickremesinghe, who at the time of the incident was prime minister, was torched by anti-government protestors on 9 July.

Wickremesinghe has revealed that his 125-year-old piano and more than 4,000 books, some centuries-old, were unsalvageable after the blaze.

“I have lost more than 4,000 books, including some that were centuries old, he said. A 125-year-old piano was also destroyed in the fire,” he told CNN.

Protestors have been occupying Wickremesinghe’s private residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, amid the country’s ongoing economic and political turmoil, with shortages of food, fuel and other basic supplies, and a crisis of trust in parliament.

Footage last week (12 July) showed a group of people singing and clapping along, as a man played one of Wickremesinghe’s pianos – watch here on Twitter.

Wickremesinghe said he respects protestors’ rights to carry out peaceful demonstrations but said he would not allow another government building like the Prime Minister’s Private residence to be occupied.

Read more: Pianist plays a melody in the ruins of Kharkiv in scene reminiscent of ‘The Pianist’

Sri Lanka’s former prime minister was elected to be the country’s new president on 20 July, despite his unpopularity with the public.

Formerly acting president, Wickremesinghe imposed a nationwide curfew “to maintain public order” after months of mass protests.

Ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country last week after thousands of protestors stormed government buildings, calling for him to step down. They also called for the resignation of then-Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe.