It’s not clear where President Gotabaya Rajapkaksa is right now – but defence officials say he was whisked away before crowds entered his residence.
“The president was escorted to safety,” an unnamed senior defence official told AFP news agency. “He is still the president, he is being protected by a military unit.”
Thousands of heavily armed troops and police were deployed in Sri Lanka’s capital on Friday ahead of the planned protests.
The authorities tried to stop them by announcing a curfew on Friday night but it was lifted after opposition parties and civil society groups strongly objected. The bar association threatened to sue the police chief.
Demonstrators began gathering near the official residence of the president on Saturday, having ignored the order to stay at home. Some had even forced railway staff to run trains to take them to Colombo, AFP news agency reported.
Police fired tear gas to try to disperse the vast crowds and fired shots in the air. But so many people had turned up for the demonstration and the authorities could not hold them back.
Footage on social media soon showed people roaming through the president’s house, lounging in its stately rooms and jumping and splashing in his pool.
There were no immediate reports of injuries. Over the past few months a number of Sri Lankans have been killed in the demonstrations, and hundreds hurt.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has agreed to resign, his office says, to make way for an all-party government.
More on that statement from the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe. He has informed party leaders that he is willing to resign from his post to make way for an all-party government, his office said a short while ago.
The PM has agreed to the opposition’s proposed plan to ensure the safety of citizens, BBC Sinhala correspondent Ranga Sirilal reports.
Many will think Mr Wickremesinghe has little option but to step aside.
According to the PM’s office, fuel distribution across the country is to be resumed this week – fuel shortages are at the root of the anger and disruption that have rocked the island for months. But previous such promises have not been met, and many Sri Lankans will be wary.