As rescue operations continued and amidst a warning of a cyclone to hit Sri Lanka, at least 58 people were killed, another 144 were missing, and over 420,000 were affected from the floods and landslides across the country, following torrential rains, the worst since 1992.
The situation didn’t show signs of improving, with the Meteorology Department issuing a warning of a possibility of heavy rain between 100mm to 150mm over the next 24 hours in certain parts of the country, which could lead to disastrous consequences if the water levels in the Kelaniya River continued to rise, which could leave thousands more destitute and even affect the country’s water and electricity supply.
Hope also ran out for at least 134 people who went missing after the landslide in Aranayake, Kegalle which buried three villages on Tuesday. A military official said that he feared the missing 134 could be dead. During rescue operations, only some 16 bodies were recovered, and the rescue operations had to be halted as rains continued and warnings were issued of more landslides.
As rescue operations continues across several flood afflicted districts including in Colombo, the international community also came forward extending their assistance to Sri Lanka. At a meeting on Thursday afternoon between Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, the Heads of Diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka had assured their assistance to the government and the victims.
The Education Ministry also ordered all schools in the country to be closed on Friday on account of the inclement weather.
Meanwhile, amidst allegations that only a limited number of boats were used by the Navy to carry out rescue missions in Colombo such as Wellampitiya and other affected areas, President Maithripala Sirisena ordered the Navy to deploy more boats and rescue people who are currently stranded in areas which are currently flooded. Sirisena also called on health authorities to be mindful of the possible outbreak of waterborne diseases, and instructed authorities to take necessary measure to prevent and ensure such an outbreak will not get out of hand.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urged everyone to join hands, as teamwork was what Sri Lanka needed at this time. He also assured that the military and the police will be deployed across all affected areas, to safeguard the belongings of the victims who have being evacuated due to floods and landslides. (By Munza Mushtaq © Colombo Telegraph)