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'Big-hearted' US technician among Sri Lanka dead

media Colombo residents flee their home in fear of a car bomb near St. Anthony's Shrine in the wake of coordinated attacks AFP

A "big-hearted" US technician who was visiting Sri Lanka for work was among the hundreds killed in the Easter attacks, his employer said Monday.

Dieter Kowalski, who worked for British educational and publishing company Pearson, wrote a final Facebook posting as he flew out Friday from his base in Denver.

"And the fun begins. Love these work trips. 24 hours of flying. See you soon Sri Lanka!" wrote the 40-year-old Wisconsin native.

In a message to employees, Pearson CEO John Fallon said that Kowalski had just arrived at his hotel in Colombo when he was killed in one of a series of coordinated Easter Sunday explosions.

Kowalski had planned to spend a week in Colombo to work on technical issues with local engineers, with whom he had become "good friends" after a previous trip, Fallon said.

"Colleagues who knew Dieter well talk about how much fun he was to be around, how big-hearted and full-spirited he was," Fallon wrote.

Kowalski would take up "our ugliest and most challenging of engineering problems" and help fix them "with joy, happiness and grace," he wrote.

"We're angry that a good man, who took simple pleasure in fixing things, has been killed, along with many others, by evil men and women who know only how to destroy."

Sri Lankan authorities said that a radical Islamist group carried out the attacks on hotels and churches which killed nearly 300 people, including 37 foreigners.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that "several" Americans were among the dead.

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