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Flood situation worsens, impending food shortage

The flood situation in Sri Lanka continued to be grim today with President Mahinda Rajapaksa warning citizens to brace up for an impending food shortage following large-scale devastation of arable land.

world Updated: Jan 13, 2011 18:52 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The flood situation in Sri Lanka continued to be grim on Thursday with President Mahinda Rajapaksa warning citizens to brace up for an impending food shortage following large-scale devastation of arable land.

The number of deaths due to floods rose to 23 and the number of people affected has crossed the 1.1 million mark.

Several new areas in the central and eastern provinces have been affected by the flooding with more than 30000 army, navy and air force personnel attempting to reach relief material to the victims.

More than two dozen camps out of 200 meant for the displaced in the eastern district were flooded.

"More than one million people have been affected by the floods," UN children's fund spokesman Mervyn Fletcher was quoted as having said by the BBC. "That means they have either been forced from their homes or have seen their property flooded. Access to clean water is becoming a major problem and we and other agencies are distributing purification tablets."

Reports said several hospitals were flooded as well forcing patients to be evacuated.

Disaster management minister Mahinda Amaraweera said the disaster was only second to the 2004 tsunami in impact. He added that the government had already spent millions of rupees for the flood victims.

On Friday, India will dispatch an aircraft-full of relief material for the flood-affected. The IL76 aircraft – which will make a second trip on January 17 – will be carrying 25 tonnes of relief material, including food and drinking water.

The worst affected in the disaster are population on the east coast; it's the same coastline which was battered by the devastating 2004 tsunami. The region lacks infrastructure and was under the control of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) till the middle of 2007.