Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sri Lanka floods displace 350,000 people and leave scores missing

There was widespread flooding in Sri Lanka at the start of this week following three days of heavy rain. Some areas had about 300mm of rain falling within a 48-hour period and there were reports of nearly 350,000 people being displaced.

Huge mudslides triggered by the rain are reported to have buried villages and affected hundreds of residents in the central district of Kegalle, in Sabaragamuwa Province, about 48 miles north of Colombo. More than 200 families were reported missing after the mudslides.

Across Sri Lanka’s Western Province more than 135,000 people were driven out of their homes by the floods.

Parts of south Texas were also flooded at the start of this week following severe thunderstorms which brought a deluge. The city of Corpus Christi had the heaviest rain during Sunday and into Monday, with nearly 300mm in less than 24 hours. The downpours triggered flash flooding and emergency services rescued residents as cars and houses were flooded in the Ingleside neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, some parts of central Europe were also inundated by heavy rain during the latter part of last week. Northern Switzerland had some of the heaviest rain, with Santis recording 165mm on Thursday and a further 100mm over the following two days. There was flooding in Lucerne, where 135mm of rain fell in three days. Mudslides affected some mountain roads, and, reportedly, one construction worker was killed in Linthal.

A heatwave affected many parts of the Levant on Sunday and Monday, with temperatures soaring well above normal for the time of year. Temperatures into the mid-40s (Celsius) were recorded in Israel and Jordan. Several brush fires were triggered in Israel and water shortages affected many thousands of displaced Syrians close to the border with Jordan. Thankfully, the heatwave was short-lived, as temperatures dropped on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Sri Lanka Floods: 63 killed, 134 missing

At least 63 people have been killed and 134 others remained missing in floods and landslides triggered by heaviest rains in Sri Lanka in over a quarter century which also forced the evacuation of over 200,000 people from their homes in the country's capital.

Issuing a desperate warning Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appealed to the people to vacate the low-lying areas in Colombo after heavy rains battered the island nation since last weekend, triggering landslides at many places. "We will ensure that army will be deployed in the areas, so please take action to safeguard your lives by evacuating," Wickremesinghe said.

Meanwhile, search and rescue operations continued in Aranayake and Bulathkohupitiya in southwestern Sri Lanka after fresh rains yesterday briefly halted the operation. Hundreds of boats have delivered aid to the flooded region in country's southwestern parts. "At least 63 people were killed while 134 others remained missing in the southwestern region. Over 300,000 people are housed in relief camps and over 350 houses have been completely destroyed," officials said.

The national Disaster Management Centre said that around 200,000 people had been evacuated from the low-lying areas in the capital in an operation led by the military, involving boats and helicopters. The worst hit areas in Colombo were the city's northeastern suburbs along the Kalani river. Three people have been killed in flood-related incidents in the capital.

The water-level in the Kelani River was rising dangerously, threatening the low-lying areas north of the capital. Several major reservoirs in the country are overspilling and the spill gates are open to full length to avoid dam breach - however, this has caused severe flooding downstream, officials said. Heavy rains and strong winds have also lashed the Northern Province for the last three days. A record rainfall of 373.2 mm was recorded in the Kilinochchi District.

President Maithripala Sirisena has asked the international community for help in aid and relief work. "We have already got some assistance from our friends in the international community," Sirisena said in a televised address. The President's appeal for help comes even as the Sri Lankan cricket team, on a tour to England, announced a donation of $7,000 for flood victims.

India has also rushed two Naval ships with relief material to Sri Lanka.

The government has announced that all flood relief goods will be exempted from import taxes. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also shared a list of relief items with the diplomatic missions in country requesting their support. The National Building Research Organization's landslide warnings for 9 district still remain valid and people were evacuated to safe places in many high-risk areas. Electricity has been shut down in flooded areas to prevent electrocutions and schools were closed across the country.

DNA India



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