Awe and anger in Sri Lanka's ransacked palace

STORY: Some lounged on a four-poster bed, others jostled for a turn on the president's gym equipment.

A day after it was ransacked, Sri Lankans roamed through the presidential palace on Sunday (July 10).

Calm has now largely returned to Colombo the day after anger over economic hardship boiled over.

Protesters stormed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's official residence, prompting him to announce his resignation.

In the grounds of the colonial-era building, human resources manager Namal Jayawardene said the greatest thing the "people and youth of this country have ever done is to chase this man away";

In contrast to the luxurious surroundings, many Sri Lankans have been struggling to make ends meet.

After the global health crisis hammered the tourism-reliant economy, the Indian Ocean island nation has been battered by record inflation, currency depreciation, rolling power cuts and chronic fuel shortages.

That boiled over into anger that also saw part of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's private residence torched by protesters late on Saturday (July 9).

He's also said he will step down. Both Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa were not in the residences when they were attacked.

Bhavani Fonseka, a senior researcher at the Center for Policy Alternatives, said it's not clear what will happen next.

"So, this is going to be an extremely critical time to ensure that there is political stability as well as economic stability, at a time where there’s also a law and order situation erupting. So, if violence is not contained, there is concern that this is going to deepen the crisis. So, very very important times ahead for Sri Lanka."

The economic crisis is Sri Lanka's worst in seven decades.

A severe foreign currency shortage has stalled imports of essentials like fuel, food and medicine. Inflation is escalating.

But there are fears the political crisis could make matters worse.

The International Monetary Fund, which has been in talks with the Sri Lankan government for a possible $3 billion bailout, said on Sunday it was monitoring events closely.

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