As millions of Sri Lankans united in an overwhelming show of solidarity, to support at least 420,000 of their countrymen affected by the floods and landslides, there were a few human vultures who tried to prey on the misery of the displaced by looting homes in some flood affected areas.
Amidst isolated reports that in some houses jewellery and other valuables had been stolen, the Army apprehended a group of some 16 looters, and suspected looters and handed them over to the police on Saturday. The incident also brought back very unpleasant memories, where during the 2004 tsunami several reports of similar human vultures robbing jewellery off dead women were reported.
However despite this isolated incident, Sri Lankans continued to band together extending a helping hand in a show of compassion and unity, offering the flood and landslide victims food, clothes, to other basic essentials. Social media continued to play a significant role in flood relief management, as many took to social media crying for help to be rescued or to rescue their near and dear. Both, Facebook and Twitter were the primary channels of communication mode to broadcast requirements of food availability, food shortages, and other flood related issues.
Shelves across supermarkets in Colombo were empty, as people rushed to make purchases to donate to the flood and landslide victims. By Friday evening, the total number of deaths increased to 71 people, while 127 continued to be missing from the Aranayaka landslide in Kegalle. The Army also ended the search on Saturday for more survivors from the landslide, four days after the landslide. Another landslide was reported from the same area on Saturday evening, however no casualties were reported.
By Saturday evening, the number of displaced stood at 319,507 people from 64,308 families, while a total of 427,918 were affected by floods and landslides. According to the Disaster Management Centre, 474 houses were fully damaged, while 3674 houses were partially damaged.
Over the past week, Sri Lankans, both young and old were seen in an overwhelming show of compassion, with some even going to the extent of donating their lunch packet brought for their afternoon meal to the victims, while children were seen donating their collection off piggybanks, for the almost half a million victims.
The Department of Irrigation on Saturday reported that the flood levels of Colombo and it’s suburbs were gradually decreasing, while the water level in the Kelani River had reduced to 6.8 feet (7 feet at the river indicates a flood level according to the water gauge meter).
Foreign assistance also continued to pour into Sri Lanka with both the United States and Australian governments extending financial assistance for flood relief, and post flood relief work in Sri Lanka. ( By Munza Mushtaq © Colombo Telegraph)