ECONOMYNEXT – The death toll of prevailing adverse weather conditions in Sri Lanka has increased to 22, with over 62,000 people affected in various ways, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said as at least one official blamed drastic changes in weather patterns on man-made climate change.
According to DMC Director General Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, 13 had drowned and six were struck by lightning.
Ranasinghe told reporters on Wednesday (10) that a majority of the drowning incidents were the result of carelessness on the part of the victims.
“Most of these deaths were preventable, but these people attempted dangerous feats knowing that the water pressure was high,” he said.
There have also been reports of people who had gone missing after wandering into forests, said Ranasinghe.
“Such actions, knowing full well the prevailing disaster situation, have put their lives as well as the lives of the search parties in danger,” he said, warning that legal action will be taken against groups who travel to areas deemed dangerous under the current weather conditions.
According to the DMC, the Kegalle, Kurunegala, Jaffna and Kandy districts have recorded rainfall exceeding 100 millimetres during the last 24-hour period.
Director General of Department of Meteorology Athula Karunanayaka said prevailing weather is expected to continue for the next 48 hours.
Karunanayaka said low pressure area in the south-east Bay of Bengal thatwas indirectly responsible for the heavy rainfalls in the country is now moving towards the southern part of India.
“After November 13, we will experience the inter monsoon season, where we will see a clear sky in the morning and by evening rain and heavy rains will occur,” Karunanayaka said.
“This is the second inter monsoon we experience in Sri Lanka that normally occurs during October and November months. But due to the situation in Bengal and Arab seas, and storms and low pressure tides that occurred in those areas, we are experiencing the current changes in our weather.”
Director General of the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) Asiri Karunawardena said 115 possible land slide areas are under NBRO observation and renewed warnings have been released.
Level one warning
- Kalutara – Ingiriya, Walallawita and Horana District Secretariat Divisions
- Galle – Nagoda, Neluwa, Yakkamulla, Kadawath sathara and Akmeemana District Secretariat Divisions
- Rathnapura – Kiriella, Alapatha, Nivithigala and Kuruwita District Secretariat Divisions
- Matale – Palpola, Matale and Yatawatta District Secretariat Divisions
- Nuwara Eliya – Walapane, Ambagamuwa, Hanguranetha and Kothmale District Secretariat Divisions
- Gampaha – meerigama, Aththanagalla and Dompe District Secretariat Divisions
- Badulla – Passara and Ella District Secretariat Divisions
- Colombo –Seethawaka and Padukka District Secretariat Divisions
- Kalutara – Mathugama, Agalawatta, Bulathsinghala, Palindanuwara and Dodangoda District Secretariat Divisions
- Galle – Baddegama abd Elpitiya District Secretariat Divisions
- Rathnapura – Ayagama, Rathnapura, Eheliyagoda and Kalwana District Secretariat Divisions
- Matale – Raththota and Ukuwela District Secretariat Divisions
- Kandy – Pathadumbara, Minipe, Meda dumbara, Pujapitiya, Ududumbara, Delthota, Hatharaliyadda, Akurana, Panwila and Kundasale District Secretariat Divisions
Level three (red alert/evacuate)
- Kegalle – Yatiyanthota, Ruwanwella, Mawanella, Aranayaka, Bulathkohupitiya, Dehiowita, Rambukkana, Kegalle and Galigamuwa District Secretariat Divisions
- Kandy – Harispaththuwa, Doluwa, Yatinuwara, Udapalatha, Pasbage korale, Gangawata Korale, Udunuwara and Gangaihala korale District Secretariat Divisions
- Kurunegala – Mallawapitiya, Ridigama, Alawwa, Narammala, Mawathagama and Polgahawela District Secretariat Divisions
DMC chief Ranasinghe said if any person or family refuses to evacuate areas highly prone to landslides, under the power vested upon the government agent of the area, authorities can use force to evacuate the family or person for their own safety.
The DMC breakdown of the affected numbers is as follows:
- Number of affected districts: 17
- Number of divisional secretariats affected: 126
- Death: 22
- Missing: 01
- Number injured: 05
- Total number of relief centers: 23
- Total number of families in relief centers: 384
- Total number of persons in relief centers: 1498
- Total number of families in relatives’ homes: 1020
- Total number of persons in relative homes: 3,537
- Total number of families affected: 17,481
- Total number of affected people: 62,247
- Total number of partial damage: 960
- Totally damaged number: 18
Ranasinghe said, while providing the necessary facilities, the DMC has already started to evaluate the damages to pay compensation for the affected families.
Meteorology chief Karunanayaka said the drastic changes in the weather are due to the increase of global warming that is mainly caused by human activity around the world. He called for a global campaign in order to reduce natural disasters.
“With green house emissions, deforestation and industrialisation, global warming has accelerated. According to the latest findings, global warming has increased by 1-1.5 degrees Celsius in the past decade. This is a new challenge scientists are facing,” Karunanayaka said.
He further said the government has taken measures to increase the productivity of the Department of Meteorology and related organisations.
“For this purpose, a loan from the World Bank has been passed, but implementation has been delayed due to the COVID-19 situation,” he said. (Colombo/Nov10/2021)