Sri Lanka’s garbage mountain kills six, 40 homes destroyed

ECONOMYNEXT – A 12-year-old boy and two girls aged 14 and 15 were among six people who died when a mountain of garbage near Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo caught fire and collapsed on Friday destroying at least 40 homes, officials said.

Tragedy struck as the country celebrated the traditional new year shared by both the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils.

Colombo National Hospital spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa said the boy and two girls died of their injurie,s while another three adults were already dead when they were pulled out the wreckage of homes and brought to hospital. Another 10 people were admitted to hospital.

Fire fighters rushed to Kolonnawa where the 300-foot (91-metre) rubbish dump crashed following a fire on Friday afternoon, an official at the Colombo Fire department said.

Overnight heavy rains had made the mountain unstable and the fire on Friday compounded the problem, causing landslides that buried homes and damaged brick and mortar homes in the neighbourhood.

The army was also called in to help the rescue effort, while an airforce helicopter was also deployed to douse the flames.

A fire department official said they were uncertain if there were people inside when the makeshift homes were buried under the rubbish. Initial reports said about 40 shanties were buried in a garbage slide.

Local residents had been protesting about the environmental damage to the area 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 14, 2017)

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