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Tuesday September 28th, 2021
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Thousands evacuated in Sri Lanka as inclement weather wreaks havoc

Image credit: SL Army

ECONOMYNEXT – Inclement weather is wreaking havoc in Sri Lanka on top of a public health crisis and the country’s biggest marine disaster yet, with four dead and thousands evacuated amid landslide and flood warnings for more calamity on the way.

The Disaster management Centre (DMC) issued landslide warnings for nine districts on June 05 with heavy rainfall expected to continue over the next few days.

DMC Director Pradeep Kodippili said in a statement that by 9am June 05 Saturday, 4,863 people belonging to 1,084 families have been evacuated to displacement relief camps.

Seven districts have been affected by heavy floods and landslides that occurred due to ceaselessly heavy rainfall exceeding 100 millimetres, official data shows.

Four people were killed in landslides and floods in the Ratnapura, Puttalam and Kalutara districts on June 04.

Another seven have disappeared in the Ratnapura, Puttalam and Kegalle districts. Kodippili said Sri Lanka’s military along with DMC relief teams are continuing search operations.

The ongoing south west monsoon has affected 170,022 people from 41,717 families so far with ten houses being completely destroyed due to inclement weather.

“The damages to houses will be assessed by our officials and we’ll arrange compensation as soon as possible,” Kodippili said.

Currently 31 relief centres are operating in the Gampaha, Rathnapura, Colombo, Puttalam, Kalutara, Nuwara Eliya and Kegall districts.

The DMC said dam gates of the Kukule river, Deduru Oya and Thabbowa reservoir have been opened by two feet, requesting residents in low lying areas to be vigilant for a possible rise in the water level.

“We especially ask residents around Maa Oya, Attanagalu Oya, Kelani river, Kalu ganga and Ging ganaga (river) to stay alert for possible floods,” Kodippili said.

He warned that due to rising water levels, Attanagalla, Gamapaha Minuwangoda, Jae la, Horana, Agalawatte, Palinda Nuwara, Bulathsinhala, Dodangoda, Milleniya, Madurawela and Kalutara areas will experience minor floods.

Meanwhile, the Irrigation Department issuing a red alert said an average rainfall of around 125 mm has occurred in the upper catchment areas of the Kelani river basin over a period of 24 hours that ended at 9am June 05.

“According to the analysis of the rainfall and current water levels of river gauges in the Kelani river, the water level at Hanwella could increase up to mine metres and up to 6.6 feet at Nagalagam Street within the next 6 to 16 hours,” the Irrigation Department said in a statement.

It is warned that there is a high possibility of considerably increased flood levels in low-lying areas of the Kelani valley; namely in Dehiovita, Ruwanwella, Seethawaka, Dompe, Homagama, Kaduwela, Biyagama, Kolonnawa and Wattala divisions.

The department asked residents and people driving through these areas to pay close attention to this situation in order to minimise casualties and property damages.

The DMC has also issued red warnings for the Kalutara, Kandy and Ratnapura districts and requetsed residents to prepare for emergency evacuations.

“Be prepared with emergency backpacks, including property documents, bank documents and other important items,” Kodippili said

The DMC said the military and DMC relief teams with boats have deployed to areas in the Galle, Kalutara, Gamapaha and Ratnapura districts to help evacuate residents to safety.

Sri Lanka Navy rescued 29 persons from 10 families in the Puttalam district on June 04, including women and children, who were in a desperate situation tapped by flash floods, the Navy said.

“They were in danger amidst flood brought in by heavy rains in the Kiriyankalli, Pulichchikulam and Battuluoya areas in the Puttalam district,” the Navy said in  its statement. (Colombo/June05/2021)

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