Hope fades for those missing after Sri Lanka garbage slide
ECONOMYNEXT – The rescue by hundreds of troops was fast turning into a recovery operation as hope faded for a dozen people listed missing following the collapse of a huge garbage mountain on the edge of Sri Lanka’s capital.
The death toll reached 15 by noon on Saturday, according to Colombo National Hospital spokeswoman Pushpa Ramya Soysa, but local officials and volunteers said another 12-15 people were thought to be missing.
"We fear the death toll will rise as we expect to find more bodies," former Kolonnawa mayor Guttila Silva said.
Soldiers were digging with their bare hands to look for people trapped under the wreckage of their homes, many of which shifted during a landslide caused by a huge garbage slip on Friday.
Among the dead were two boys and two girls aged between 11 and 15 years, hospital spokeswoman Soysa said.
Police said 145 homes had been destroyed in Friday’s garbage dump collapse. Several homes had simply disappeared under several meters of rubbish.
The authorities have temporarily relocated 625 people from 180 families who lived in the neighbourhood.
The tragedy struck as the country celebrated the traditional new year shared by both the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils.
There was a smaller scale garbage slip in February last year when three homes were buried.
Since then, residents have been protesting about the dangers to the neighbourhood and environmental damage as a result of the open dump to which some 800 tonnes of solid waste is added daily.
The parliament was told recently that the Kolonnawa dump had over 23 million tonnes of garbage dumped over the years. (COLOMBO, April 15, 2017)