Sri Lanka monsoon toll nears 100

ECONOMYNEXT – The heavy monsoon rains that ended a prolonged drought has claimed nearly 100 lives and another 110 were missing following landslides and flooding, the Disaster management centre said Friday.

The Southwest monsoon, which set in as forecast by the met department on Thursday night dumped record rainfalls in many parts of the country ending the drought, but also leaving thousands destitute.

Official figures showed that 91 people were confirmed killed and another 110 were listed as missing as at 6.00 p.m on Friday.

Ratnapura and Kalutara districts were the worst affected with landslides there claiming many lives.

In the Galle district, a mountain side collapsed on a women’s hostel at a tea factory in Neluwa killing at least seven workers and wounding two others.

The met department said Friday’s rain was the heaviest in that part of the country since the May 2003 flooding that claimed 250 lives and destroyed 10,000 homes in the Southern and Sabaragamuwa provinces.

The government also warned residents along the banks of the Kelani, which flows to the Indian Ocean through Colombo, to remain vigilant as water levels continued to rise.

The DMC said about 20,000 people were driven out of their homes in seven out of the 25 districts in the southern and western parts of the country following overnight heavy rains.

"The Southwest monsoon began with very intense rain," Disaster management deputy minister Dunesh Gankanda told reporters in Colombo.

"There are some areas where we are unable to reach, but relief operations are underway."





Sri Lanka also appealed for international help as the toll climbed.

"The (Foreign) ministry will continue to monitor the flood situation and seek assistance as required in consultation with the Ministry of Disaster Management," it said in a statement.

It said Colombo had already sounded out the UN and its South Asian neighbours.

DMC officials said the monsoon had also ended a prolonged drought that had threatened agriculture as well as hydro power generation.

On Friday the military deployed thousands of troops to reach marooned villagers and the airforce carried out several rescue operations to pluck people from rooftops of flooded homes. The navy had deployed their boats.

Aside from the destruction, this week’s rains also filled the reservoirs used for hydro power. These had hit rock bottom, raising concerns of power shortage in June.

Officials said most reservoirs had reached spill level causing dangers of flooding to people living downstream.
(COLOMBO, May 26, 2017)

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