Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sri Lanka: Over 196,000 affected as stormy weather continues to wreak havoc

by Don Asoka Wijewardena - The country will experience more thunderstorms during the next 48 hours in the Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces and in the Galle and Matara Districts in the South.

Disaster Management officials said that in Kalutara, Colombo, Gampaha, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Kurunegala, Galle, Puttalam and Trincomalee around 196,376 people had been affected by the rains and several houses badly damaged. The total number of families affected by the rains in these districts stood at 46,656 as at last afternoon.

Meteorology Department Duty Forecaster Ms. Gayani Hendavitharana said that a strong depression had been developing in the Bay of Bengal and it had intensified into a cyclonic storm moving North West towards India.

She told The Island that in addition to the indirect thundershowers, heavy showers would also spread to the Central Province and some parts of the North Western province. Heavy rainfall and strong winds could be expected at some places, particularly in the South Western region, she said.

She added that the coastal areas would experience strong and gusty winds. Winds that had been blowing across the sea had a speed of 60 km per hour and fishermen have been given bad weather warnings.

Officials added that several main roads and roads in rural areas of the Western, Sabaragamuwa and Southern provinces remain impassable and though the rains have subsided, certain areas are still submerged.

On a Directive of President Mahinda Rajapaksa Rs 2.3 million was released yesterday alone for relief efforts.

Disaster Management officials said that the worst affected district was Colombo, where 21,404 families had been severely affected. The figures for the other districts are: the Kalutara 5,082, Gampaha 18,576, Kurunegala 44, Galle 2,200, Puttalam 100 and Trincomalee 150.

All District Secretaries and Divisional Secretaries have been instructed to provide cooked meals to the affected people.

Each family will be given dry rations to the value of Rs. 245 to Rs. 525 per day for up to one week.

The officials said that necessary arrangements would also be made to estimate the damages and a maximum of Rs. 50,000 would be give for a damaged household and it would be released in three installments. Compensation would be paid for crop loss up to Rs. 20,000.

According to the Disaster Management Ministry, grassroots level public representatives, local government representatives and officers from Divisional Secretariats would be required to combine the immediate, short-term and long-term flood mitigation plans for their respective divisions to be submitted along with the estimates.

© The Island
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