The first burst of the southwest monsoon might have brought relief to parts of summer-scorched south India, but it has triggered death and disaster in Sri Lanka.
Till Tuesday evening, more than 20 were either feared killed or missing and nearly three lakh people have been displaced in floods and landslides triggered by the rains across the island nation since late last week. Nine of the country's 25 districts including parts Colombo have been affected by the torrential rains, which show no sign of letting up as yet.
National Disaster Relief Services Centre (NDRSC) assistant director J K Gunawardana told HT that floods and landslides have affected more than 70,000 families. “In terms of people affected, the number is 2.96 lakh.
“Besides the armed forces, various national and international NGOs are working to provide relief to the people.”
Gunawardana said nearly Rs 30 million have been pledged by the government as flood relief. Among the worst affected districts are Kalutara, Kegalle, Galle, Matara and Gampaha.
The Army, Navy and Air Force have been pressed into service to rescue the stranded and evacuate the victims to camps set up for the displaced. In some areas, the armed forces personnel are also helping in reaching out relief material.
The Department of Meteorology had warned last week of floods, landslides and tidal waves. Met deputy director S.H. Kariyawasam had told a media conference that districts such as Colombo, Galle, Matara Ratnapura and Kegalle and Western parts of the central hills were likely to be affected by the monsoon.
Disaster Management Centre's National Coordinator Keerthi Ekanayake said that Kalutara district is the worst affected, where about 16,000 families have been displaced.
“Measures were being taken to shift affected people to safe places. Displaced people were being supplied with necessaries such as drinking water, generators, water tanks, kerosene and water pumps,” he added.