Rescuers struggling to reach thousands of marooned victims



By Maheesha Mudugamuwa


Rescuers are attempting to reach thousands of people stranded by floods and landslides in 22 districts. The death toll from disasters has risen to 63.


Soldiers and police personnel are struggling to find as many as 128 people still missing three days after a massive landslide destroyed a village in Aranayake in the Kegalle District. Officials said inclement weather had hampered their operations.


An estimated 425,601 people have been affected by torrential rains widespread floods, landslides, mudslides and high winds in 22 districts during the week with 28 people injured and 132 people still missing.


Over 354 houses have reportedly been destroyed.


Officials said about 3326 houses were damaged.


So far, in Aranayake, 16 bodies have been recovered and at least 180 people have been rescued, but there are dozens more missing under mud, according to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC). Over 1,900 people have been sheltered in nine safe places in Aranayake.


Asked whether rescuers expected to find survivors, Officer-In-Charge of Aranayake Police pointed to an area in Elangapitiya village, where 66 houses once stood. "There may be several survivors among missing who have been evacuated to neighbouring villages. Some of those missing may have left before the disaster. Therefore we cannot give exact figures yet."


The Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council yesterday said it would launch a housing project for those displaced by the adverse weather conditions.


In the Western Province, over 321,350 people have been affected by floods and heavy rains and over 295,384 people sheltered in 326 safe locations.


According to the Irrigation Department Director of Hydrology Eng. P. Hettiarachchi, the water level on the Kelani Ganga is still at a major flood level. Its water level as measured at Nagalagam Street was at 7’ and 3.5 inches as at 12.oo noon yesterday. The water level in Attanagalu Oya has also neared a major flood level. Water levels of Kalu Ganga, Nilwala, Kirindi Oya, Maduru Oya, Kumbukkan Oya, Heda Oya, Mahaweli Ganga, Yan Oya, Malwatu Oya and Maha Oya were normal, Irrigation officials said.


The flood situation in neighbouring areas of Kelani Ganga were still at a high level.


Meanwhile, the Manager of Ambatale water treatment plant operations announced that there was no danger to it due to the adverse weather experienced in the country and the water supply to Colombo would not be interrupted.


The adverse weather conditions have severely disrupted traffic countrywide; several arterial roads were closed due to floods, landslides and landslide threats.


The Railway Control Room said the train services on the upcountry line from Colombo Fort would end at Rambukkana as the track had been badly damaged and because of the rains it would take a few days to complete the repairs.


One of the compartments of a train No: 19 derailed at Balana on Tuesday.


Meanwhile, the train service between Thalawa and Thambuththegama has resumed after floods disrupted the line for several days.


The Meteorology Department said the Cyclonic storm ‘ROANU’ in the Bay of Bengal was now located about 950 km north-east of Kankesanturai and it was further moving away from the country.


It predicted slight reduction in strong windy conditions and showers over the country and in the sea areas in the next two days.


But, several spells of showers were predicted in North-Western, Western, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces and in the Galle, Matara districts.


The National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) further extended the landslide warning in seven districts including Kandy, Kegalle, Ratnapura, Nuwara Eliya, Kegalle, Matale and Kalutara.


Residents in those areas were requested to pay more attention to any signs of landslide such as developing of cracks, oozing out of muddy water and slanting of trees. If there were any such signs, the NBRO wants the people to move away from the hazardous areas immediately.


Meanwhile, the Disaster Management Ministry has established a bank account to receive financial donations in the wake of the crisis. These funds will be used to directly help those who have been left homeless, without adequate food, water and essential services. International and local donations can be made to the following account:


Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management- Disaster Relief Account,


Account Number: 7040171


Bank of Ceylon


Independence Square


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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