Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sri Lanka: Rains continue to lash the country - Over 442,000 affected, 17 dead

by Dasun Edirisinghe - About 17 people have been killed by floods with thousands of others badly affected, according to Disaster Management Centre Director Brigadier (retd.) N. B. Weragama. He told The Island that 442,415 people had been affected by floods islandwide.

The flood-affected districts are Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, Kegalle, Ratnapura, Galle, Puttalam, Trincomalee, Matara, Anuradhapura and Nuwara Eliya.

He said 154 houses were fully damaged and 802 partially.

"The government has set up 50 camps for those that are displaced by floods and 8,927 people are currently there," Brig. Weragama said.

Colombo District Disaster Management officer P. K. C. L. Pathirana said there were 10 welfare centres in the Colombo District.

Those displaced by floods could seek shelter at relief centres located at: Darusalam Vidyalaya – Colombo 10, Sudharmarama Viharaya, Kotte, Bodhirajarama Viharaya, Egoda Uyana, Moratuwa, Vidarshanarama Viharaya, Egoda Uyana, Moratuwa, Kalapaluwawa Siddhartha Viharaya, Kaduwela, Kaleel Dispensary, Colombo 10, P. D Sirisena Ground, Colombo 10, Gunananda Mawatha, Colombo 15, 64 Watta Store, in Madampitiya and Sirimapura Public Hall, Colombo 14.

Gampaha District Disaster Management Officer A. M. A. N. Chandrasiri said Gampaha – Ja Ela, Minuwangoda – Katana roads and some areas of Colombo – Negombo road were under water.

Low-lying areas of Wattala, Katana, Ja–ela, Negombo and Kelaniya are still under water.

Ratnapura District Disaster Management officer Lt. Col. M. P. B. Abhayarathna said the Kalu Ganga had overflowed in the Ratnapura, Elapatha, Ayagama and Kiriella areas and transportation on minor roads had come to a standstill last morning.

He said that there was a landslide threat in the Ratnapura, Pelmadulla, Kuruwita, Eheliyagoda, Kalawana, Kolonna and Elapatha areas and people had been advised to vacate the area.

"We have provided the people who are living in areas prone to landslides with rain gauges and asked them to vacate the area if there is a rainfall over 150mm," Lt. Col. Abhayarathna said.

Galle District Disaster Management Officer Col. Rasika Ranasinghe said Gin Ganga had spilled over at Welipitiya and Divithura areas. The low-lying areas of the Galle – Mapalagama road were under water.

The Meteorology Department has warned of more rains in next few days, but ruled out the threat of cyclone ‘Laila’ moving towards Sri Lanka.

Meteorologist Gayana Hendawitharana said the cyclone ‘Laila’ was moving away from the island, but strong windy conditions would continue over the country and surrounding sea areas.

She said showers would occur in the Western, Central, Sabaragamuwa Provinces and Galle and Matara Districts.

Hendawitharana warned that north seas would experience frequent showers, strong winds and rough conditions. There would be showers at several places and fairly rough wind at times over the other sea areas around the island, she said

According to the Sri Lanka Automobile Association the road from Ja–Ela to Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake is submerged due to flooding.

Sri Lanka Air Force spokesman Group Captain Janaka Nanayakkara said SLAF helicopters were ready to airlift all passengers who were heading to the airport.

Navy boats have been deployed in the flooded areas. Navy Spokesman Captain Athula Senerath said the Navy was carrying out flood relief operations.

Captain Senarath said 23 naval teams and 22 SLN boats were operating in the Gampaha District providing relief assistance.

In addition, special naval teams had been dispatched to Wattala, Negombo, Gampaha and Katana areas, he said.

"On Tuesday, 17 naval teams and boats were engaged in evacuating people and they provided emergency relief and medical assistance to those severely affected by floods in Divulapitiya, Kimbulapitiya, Gampaha, Minuwangoda, Seeduwa, Kiribathgoda, Maharagama, Biyagama, Hanwella, Katunayake, Kotugoda, Katana, Kelaniya, Kolonnawa, Ambalangoda and Wathugedara areas," Captain Senerath said.

The Navy boats had been dispatched to assist the inbound and outbound passengers to the Airport due to heavy flooding on the Katunayake – Minuwangoda road, Senerath said adding the Navy continued monitoring the situation and additional troops and crafts were kept on stand by for contingency deployment in case of flash floods and earth slips.

Disaster Management Minister A. H. M. Fowzie said about Rs. 80 million had been allocated to provide relief for the flood victims and out of that 18 million rupees had already been released through Divisional Secretaries in the flood affected areas.

© The Island

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