June 1, 2017

SRI LANKA: Heavy Rains Unleashed Mudslides, Devastating Flooding That Left 183 Dead And Tens Of Thousands Without Clean Drinking Water. Appealing For Help.

The Daily Star, Lebanon
written by AFP staff
Tuesday May 30, 2017

COLOMBO - Sri Lanka appealed for volunteers Tuesday to help with a massive recovery operation in the wake of devastating flooding that left 183 dead and tens of thousands without clean drinking water.

State television broadcast calls for public assistance to clean drinking wells contaminated by the monsoon floods, the worst in 14 years after record rainfall in the island's southwest.

The Disaster Management Center said nearly 600,000 people had been forced from their homes, with thousands suffering structural damage from flood inundation and landslides.

Water supply minister Rauf Hakeem said 40 percent of those affected did not have access to piped drinking water, and there was an urgent need to clean contaminated wells in flood-affected areas.

"Our workers have volunteered to join a major clean up," the minister told reporters in Colombo, adding water distribution stations had also been flooded, disrupting the piped supply.

The military has deployed more troops to the thousands already involved in distributing food and other essentials to flood victims in the districts of Kalutara, Ratnapura, Galle and Matara.

The disaster center said weather in Sri Lanka was expected to improve Tuesday, with powerful Cyclone Mora moving away from the island towards Bangladesh.

There were scattered showers in many parts of Sri Lanka in the past 24 hours but flood waters were rapidly receding, officials said.

The official death toll was at 183, with another 110 people were listed as missing as of Tuesday morning.

In May 2003, 250 people were killed and 10,000 homes destroyed after a similarly powerful monsoon.

Sri Lanka has sought international assistance, with India sending two naval ships laden with supplies over the weekend. A third ship was expected later Tuesday, officials said.

The United Nations said it would donate water containers, water purification tablets and tarpaulins while the World Health Organization will support medical teams in affected areas.

Japan had promised portable generators and a team of experts to help with relief work.

Yahoo News
written by AFP staff
Saturday May 27, 2017

Sri Lanka stepped up its military-led relief operations Saturday as nearly half a million people were displaced after a monsoon deluge killed at least 122 people and threatened more flooding.

Rainfall on Friday triggered the worst flooding and landslides in 14 years in the southern and western parts of the island and although the rain eased on Saturday, low-lying areas remained under water, the authorities said.

The official Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said a total of 122 people were confirmed dead while 97 remained missing. Another 49 injured in landslides were hospitalised.

"Most of the fatalities were due to landslides and only a very few drowned," said government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne who is also the health minister.

He said nearly 500,000 people were forced from their homes and most of them had moved into temporary shelters.

The military led search operations in landslide-hit areas and the airforce deployed five aircraft for rescue operations and another five to transport emergency supplies to villagers who could not be reached by road.

At the village of Bulathsinhala, relatives were seen loading coffins of 10 victims onto armoured personnel carriers to transport them across flooded streets to higher ground for burial.

The military vehicles also ferried villagers along roads converted into riverways by the rainfall, passing submerged traffic signs and flooded houses.

There were similar scenes in the adjoining Ratnapura district, the island's gem capital, which was also flooded. The authorities arranged funerals for dozens of victims.

The deluge caused the Nilwala river to burst its banks, threatening to submerge a large number of villages, the DMC said.

It warned thousands of villagers living near the Nilwala to evacuate to higher ground.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who returned from a state visit to Australia, travelled to Kalutara, one of the worst affected districts south of Colombo, to supervise relief operations.

"The government will give new houses to those who lost their houses," he tweeted.

The authorities dropped thousands of life jackets for marooned people in a bid to protect them until they could be moved to safer ground.

- International aid -

An Indian naval ship equipped with medical supplies docked in Colombo Saturday and a second vessel was expected on Monday, Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu said.

The United Nations said it will give water containers, water purification tablets and tarpaulin sheets while the World Health Organisation will support medical teams in affected areas.

Save the Children warned of a potential increase in dengue cases in the country.

The charity's Sri Lanka country director Chris McIvo said: "We're particularly worried we could start seeing a further increase in the number of dengue cases because of the stagnant water that the floods will leave in their wake."

Pakistan said it was in talks with Colombo to send relief supplies. Islamabad recently gave 10,000 tonnes of rice to Sri Lanka to help drought victims.

The meterological department said the rains ended a prolonged drought that had threatened agriculture as well as hydropower generation.

The flooding is the worst since May 2003 when 250 people were killed and 10,000 homes destroyed after a similarly powerful monsoon, officials said.

Monsoon rains last year caused flooding and landslides, killing over 100 people.

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