Weather likely to change today

Death toll rises to 15, five missing


by Maheen Senanayake

"The death toll has risen as 15 bodies have been recovered from landslide sites in the Badulla District," said Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Disaster Management, speaking from Anuradhapura.

"There are approximately 80,000 displaced in the island due to the rains," he said. "We are providing food and essentials to all displaced persons. We have also provided the necessary funds to the Divisional Secretaries for any further requirements."

Asked what the situation was in Badulla he said, " the biggest issue in Badulla is that there have been landslides in many places and roads are blocked. We are doing what’s necessary to clear them."

Meanwhile in the Anuradhapura district all persons in danger have been brought to safety and there is no need for additional boats, he said.

Asked whether the hospital in Anuradhapura is functional he said "Yes, all staff have reported to work and the hospital is functioning."

Met Chief L. Chandrapala said the current rains and weather are really the effects of the North Eastern monsoonal rains with a series of development over the Bay of Bengal. The weather systems have been forming one after the other over the last two weeks and one has been stagnant over the Island. This has resulted in a lot of rain particularly in the North Central, East and the Hambantota area."

"Finally it developed into a low pressure system and depression. The highest rainfall was to the East and North Central Province. For instance Polonnaruwa during the last three to four days received approximately 600mm of rain; Anuradhapura 550 mm in the last two days and in Batticaloa on Friday alone we recorded 110-115 while on Thursday Badulla had received 200 mm."

"We are monitoring the situation and we feel that based on current data the weather will clear around Sunday afternoon. The epicenter of the depression is about 400 km. east of Hambantota is moving northwards. However, it may yet be too early to predict the weather as no one knows when the next system will develop," he said.

"The winds in south western parts of the Island were high while in the deep south it is a bit high. We have already issued warnings to the fishermen."

The Meteorological Department receives hourly updates of satellite imagery. In addition it monitors pressure distribution, specially in the upper atmosphere. It also operates 22 manual weather stations, 38 automated weather stations and 400 rainfall measuring stations islandwide.

Although there was rain in some parts of the country yesterday, it was less than 10 mm, Chandrapala said.

``There was light rain in Badulla, Batticaloa, Katugastota, Polgahawela and Vavuniya," he said. "The depression over the Bay of Bengal appears to be heading North."

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