Govt steps up relief efforts as thousands continue to be affected by heavy rains

Two people died and thousands were left stranded in the heavy rains that engulfed several parts of the island over the past few days.

According to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), a total of 65,316 people from 19,072 families were affected by the adverse weather conditions in various ways. At least six individuals were reported to be injured.

Sixty-two homes were destroyed in the rains and floods, while 1,463 homes have sustained partial damages, the DMC said, adding that 17,776 people from 5,277 families have been moved to 133 safe locations.

Asked about ongoing disaster relief efforts, the National Disaster Relief Services Centre said that food and other facilities are provided to those affected through the coordination of District Secretaries and Divisional Secretaries of their respective areas.  

The Department of Meteorology, meanwhile, said that the ongoing heavy showers will likely continue over the Northern, Eastern and North-Central provinces today (23) but may reduce in intensity to some extent from 25 December.

Showers or thundershowers will occur in the Northern, Eastern, North-central and Uva provinces and Matale and Hambanthota districts, while showers or thundershowers will occur elsewhere, particularly after 2 pm.

Very heavy falls about 100-150 mm are likely in parts of the Northern province and Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee districts, the Met Department added.

Landslide warnings issued for six districts by the National Building Research Organization (NBRO) will also be in effect till 4 pm today.

A Level 3 Red landslide alert has been issued to the Laggala-Pallegama, Yatawatta, Naula, Wilgamuwa and Rattota Divisional Secretariats in the Matale district and the Badulla, Bandarawela, Welimada, Hali Ela, Uvaparanagama, Ella, Haldummulla, Passara, Lunugala, Haputale and Soranathota Divisional Secretariats in the Badulla district.

A red alert has also been issued to Ududumbara and Medadumbara Divisional Secretariats in the Kandy district and the Walapane Divisional Secretariat in the Nuwara Eliya district.

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A Level 2 Amber landslide alert has been issued to the Ambanganga Korale, Ukuwela, Pallepola and Matale Divisional Secretariats in the Matale district, the Badalkumbura, Medagama and Bibila Divisional Secretariats in the Monaragala district and the Hanguranketha Divisional Secretariat in the Nuwara Eliya district.

A Level 1 Yellow landslide alert has been issued to the Balangoda and Imbulpe Divisional Secretariats in the Ratnapura district, the Nuwara-Eliya Divisional Secretariat in the Nuwara Eliya district and the Pathahewaheta Divisional Secretariat in Kandy district.

The DMC requests residents living in the vicinity of Mee Oya to evacuate immediately to a safer place since a volume of 11,500 cubic meters per second is to be released to the Thabbowa reservoir.

The Irrigation Department noted that the water level of the Mahaweli River is also rising. Therefore, the residents living in the surrounding lowlands of the Welikanda, Kinniya, Muthur, Seruwawila, Kanthale, Lankapura, Medirigiriya, Thamankaduwa and Dimbulagala Divisional Secretariats are advised to be vigilant.

The DMC further requests the residents living in the surrounding lowlands of Kala Oya, in  Thalawa, Ipalogama, Tambuttegama, Galnewa to evacuate to safe locations since the water level of Kala Oya is rising.

Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena, meanwhile, said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had visited Rajanganaya this morning as a first priority. Rajapaksa will visit other affected areas within the day and will direct the tri-forces and the police to provide relief to those affected, he said.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Finance Minister also held a meeting in the morning with DMC officials and allocated Rs. 17 million to provide relief for the affected areas, said Gunawardena.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Navy has deployed 23 relief teams to the affected areas in accordance with the integrated disaster management plan implemented island-wide.

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