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Lankan floods wreak havoc

world Updated: Feb 10, 2011 00:05 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The flood situation across Sri Lanka was easing off, but receding waters could reveal hundreds of thousands of acres of paddy fields totally destroyed in the two rounds of flooding in less than a month, officials said on Wednesday.

At least 19 persons have been killed and nearly 1.2 million affected in several districts in north, central and eastern Sri Lanka in the second round of floods that swept the country in the last seven to ten days.

In the first round of rain and floods in January, more than 40 were killed and at least 1.1 million were impacted.

"The havoc caused by two rounds of flooding in Sri Lanka in January and February have destroyed 576,121 acres of paddy land in all 25 districts in the country. The total paddy cultivated was in 1.82 million acres and the total acres that were destroyed were 31% of the staple rice crop," the official government portal said on Wednesday.

In the district of Matale alone, around 4336 farmers had possibly lost their source of livelihood, latest statistics with the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) revealed.

Paddy and other field crops planted in Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts have completely been lost.

Many of the flooded areas were barely recovering from the January floods when intense rain over three to four days, again inundated fields, washed away homes and roads, triggered landslides and forced lakhs of people to take shelter in makeshift camps.

"In many places, a month’s rainfall fell in 10 days. Ampara and Batticaloa (eastern Sri Lanka) were worst affected. We have announced landslide alerts in Kandy and Badulla. The good news is the flooding seems to be easing off in most parts," Brigadier (retd) Nimal B Weragama, director, operations, DMC told HT.

He added that initially 1000 camps for the displaced were set up. "At least 172536 people are staying in the remaining 646 camps," Weragama said.

The Sri Lankan government has estimated that the recent round of floods has caused damage worth LKR 50 billion (around Rs 20 billion).

Minister of Disaster Management Mahinda Amaraweera told reporters that thousands of acres of cultivations, around 450 small and big irrigation schemes, at least 75,000 cattle and many thousands of poultry and other animals were destroyed in the floods.

The UN said the recent flooding had hit the people still trying to recover from the last month's flooding, the hardest.

The government is apprehensive that destruction of paddy fields could have a severe impact on supply and price of rice across the country.