Death toll in worst weather since 1957 rises to seven; more fatalities feared

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The situation in most flood-hit districts continued to worsen with the authorities warning of continuing heavy rains in the badly-hit districts of Eastern, Northern and North Central Provinces.

As many as 664,893 people had been displaced in the 16 districts of Northern, Central, North Central, North Western, Eastern, Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces, according to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), which termed the flood as the worst since 1957.

Seven people had died, while two others had been reported missing. Five people had also been injured by mudslides and floods, it said.

DMC Assistant Director Sarath Lal Kumara yesterday said that three people had died as a result of two separate incidents of earth slips in the Badulla District from prevailing adverse weather.

Ten others were feared dead as five houses were damaged due to a landslide, he added. 

A 54-year-old woman and her 23-year-old son were killed after an earth embankment collapsed on their home at Galkanda, while one person died due to an earth embankment collapsing on to a residence in the Hegoda area in Badulla.

The number of evacuees increased to more than 60,907 yesterday with over 30,639 in Eastern Province, 15,046 in Northern Province and 10, 684 in North Central Province.

The worst-hit districts are Ampara followed by Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa. The situation in Ampara is getting worse with more than 30,639 people evacuated.

According to the Irrigation Department, 57 reservoirs had opened their locks to let off rising waters.

Sluice gates of the Bowatenne Reservoir had been opened and people living in the vicinity of the Amban River were advised to exercise caution and vacate the area.

The water level in the Menik Ganga continued to rise with the opening of the spill gates at the Weheragala Reservoir posing a flood threat to the surroundings.

Devotees planning to visit Kataragama have been warned to be vigilant when travelling to the area.

Meanwhile, 16 sluice gates of the Rajanganaya Reservoir in Anuradhapura have been opened by 8 feet each as a result of the heavy rains.

Both spill gates of the Angamuwa Reservoir have been opened by 4 feet each while all six spill gates Nachchaduwa Tank have also been opened.

The Tisa Wewa and Nuwara Wewa tanks in Anurahdapura continued to overflow and therefore the Anuradhapura sacred city grounds continue to remain flooded.

The 16 sluice gates of the Hurulu-Wewa in Galenbindunuwewa, Anuradhapura remain opened and the water is being released to the Yan Oya.

Meanwhile, transportation in many roads in the hill-country has been hampered as a result of earth slips, landslides and rock-slides, the DMC said.

 Sri Lanka Railways yesterday said that train services on the main line were disrupted since Thursday’s night due to earth slips and rock falls. 

The train services on the Batticaloa-Trincomalee line terminated at Polonnaruwa because of the railway line being submerged at several locations.

The National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) said that landslide warnings had been issued to eleven districts in the country and warned people living in those areas to be extra vigilant.

High risk areas are in the districts of Nuwara Eliya, Badulla, Kandy, Kegalle, Matale, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Ratnapura and Kalutara.

Meteorology Department Duty Meteorologist Pabodani Karunapala told The Island that more rains were expected in the North Central Province till the end of the week and rains in other areas would be reduced gradually.

Met Department’s Severe Weather Advisory stated that the low pressure area had intensified into a depression and located just off the southeast coast of Sri Lanka and it was expected to move very closer to the country causing very heavy rainfalls yesterday.

Cloudy skies and intermittent showers or thundershowers will occur over most parts of the country. Very heavy rains of more than 150 mm are also likely at some places.

Strong winds up to 60Km/hr can be expected at times over the country and over the sea areas around the country.

The sea areas off the coast extending from Puttalam to Kankesanthurai via Galle and Pottuvil may be very rough at times and dangerous as the winds can strengthen up to 80 kmph.

Fishermen were strongly requested not to set out to the sea and not to stay on the beaches of said coastal areas. People living closer to the said coasts are also requested to be vigilant.

According to the Meteorology Department, during last 24 hours ended at 8.30 a.m yesterday the maximum temperature of 29.2°C was reported from Anuradapura and minimum temperature of 13.4°C was reported from Nuwara Eliya. The maximum rainfall of 184.4 mm was reported from Bowatenna.

The temperature yesterday in Colombo (Katunayake) was 23.4°C.

Significant rainfalls reported from main meteorological stations during last 24hrs ending at 08.30 a.m. yesterday: 275.8mm at Pottuvil, 195.9 at Badulla, 145.7mm at Moneragala, 134.9 mm at Bandarawela and 112.0 at Hambantota.

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