Colombo : A colony of wasps Wednesday attacked a group of tourists at a fifth century rock fortress in central Sri Lanka, leading to 20 people being hospitalised, officials here said.
At least 20 people were rushed to hospital while several others were trapped inside the rock fortress following the ambush by the angry swarm of wasps at the 200 metre-high fortress of Sigiriya, which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists as it is a world heritage site.
The police, quoting initial reports, said that there were two foreigners and some schoolchildren among the wounded.
“We have rushed a team of airmen and officers to rescue the people trapped inside the fortress and provide them with necessary first aid treatment, in coordination with the police in the area,” Air Force spokesman Wing Commander Janakka Nanayakkara told IANS.
Sigiriya, both the palace and the fortress, was built by King Kasyappa during the fifth century AD, and many consider this as one of the wonders of the world.
Its frescoes are similar to the ones of Ajanta in India.
Wasps are not uncommon at the site, lying 150 km north-east of Colombo, but the authorities do not use chemicals or smoke them out, fearing it may harm the ancient frescoes known as the Sigiriya maidens.
Visitors here are instructed not to make noise to ensure that the wasps remain undisturbed and the authorities now suspect that the heat and the noise of the crowd could have roused the normally peaceful insects.