Cyclone Laila might be hurtling towards India’s east coast but not before stormy clouds on its periphery had lashed Sri Lanka, displacing nearly 2.8 lakh people, triggering floods, delaying flights and submerging many areas of capital Colombo.
The indirect impact of the cyclone was compounded as heavy pre-monsoonal showers set in over parts of the country as the storm developed over the Bay of Bengal.
The Sri Lanka air force helicopters and navy vessels were pressed into service to ferry stranded passengers from Colombo to the international airport after parts of the connecting roads were washed away. All flights, international and domestic, were either delayed or cancelled because of heavy rain.
Colombo experienced more than 350 mm of rain over the last five days.
Thousands of passengers were also stranded after railway tracks were flooded across the country. Several train stations had to suspend operations.
The Lankan Parliament, located in a Colombo suburb, was adjourned after an adjoining lake threatened to overflow and flood the premises.
``The weather conditions experienced were caused after Sri Lanka was hit by `feeder bands’ (clouds on the outer spirals of a cyclone but connected to its centre) of the cyclone as it moved up the Indian east coast,’’ DA Jayasingharachchi, in-charge of the National Meteorological Centre, told HT.
On Tuesday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa called a meeting of ministers and top officials to take stock of the emergency situation and announce relief for the flood-affected.
Strong winds, accompanied by incessant lightning and thunder, lashed most parts of the island even as blinding rain triggered landslides and flooded important highways.
On Wednesday, Trincomalee on the east coast was battered by strong winds. Over 200 houses were damaged.
The Director General of the Department of Meteorology G.B. Samarasingha told Daily Mirror online that the current weather conditions will continue for another few days. The monsoon season, he said, was likely to set in by the end of this week and continue till September.