Sri Lanka races to rescue flood victims

Elias Hubbard
May 29, 2017

Although the weather has cleared, more rains are forecast for Monday, threatening to bring further misery to over 100,000 people displaced in western and southern regions of the island nation that were lashed by two days of torrential rains.

The death toll in Sri Lanka's mudslides disaster has risen to 151 with 111 others still missing.

Another massive landslide a year ago killed more than 100 people in central Sri Lanka.

"Although the heavy rainy condition has reduced temporary, showery conditions are likely to enhance again over south-western part of the island from 29th May 2017", the Meteorological Department said.

Sri Lanka's monsoon toll climbed to 164 with the discovery of more bodies of people buried in landslides triggered by intense rains, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said Monday.

Almost 500,000 people have been affected by the disaster, the worst since the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and the downpours have displaced over 100,000 Sri Lankans.

Military spokesman Roshan Seneviratne said a let-up in the rains had allowed troops to access cut-off villages.

The most severely impacted district is Galle, where 128,047 people (32,215 families) have reportedly been affected. "But nobody could go to that place", Mohomed Abdulla, 46, told Reuters in Agalawatte, a town in western coastal district of Kalutara, where 47 people have died and 62 are missing.

Rescue efforts are hampered by lack of drinking water, lack of electricity and continued rain.

Civilians and relief officials, sailing in boats, distributed food, water, and relief items.

A man searches the water on a flooded road in Dodangoda village in Kalutara, Sri Lanka May 28, 2017.

Sri Lanka has sought assistance from the worldwide community, following the worst rains since 2003.

"I thought it was my end", he said as he recalled how the water level suddenly rose on Sunday, covering his head, before he was pulled to safety.

The government has deployed nearly 2,000 military personnel to affected areas.

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

Sri Lanka's tri-forces personnel including more than 1,000 Army troops were engaged in the rescue and relief operations.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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