Floods: 180,000 affected, 20 killed in 11 districts

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Floods caused by torrential rains have affected over 180,000 persons, in eleven districts.

According to the figures issued by the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) last night, 180,054 persons of 46,627 families have been affected while the death toll has risen to twenty. Thirty-four persons have been injured in flood related accidents.

The worst affected districts were Hambantota, Matale, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Polonnaruwa, Badulla, Moneragala, Batticaloa, Kurunegala, Puttalam and Kegalle.

Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that the 14 people had gone missing in several flood affected districts.

Addressing the media yesterday, at the ministry auditorium, he said that the majority of flood victims, 135,686, were from the Batticaloa District followed by Puttalam, where 4,264  people were marooned by the floods.

Minister Amaraweera said that 11,525 people, who had been displaced by the floods, were being accommodated in 63 camps in the Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, Moneragala, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Ampara, Matale, Puttalam, Mannar, Anuradhapura and Badulla Districts. He said that 172 houses, in those districts, had been destroyed by floods and 978 others damaged.

The DMC, in collaboration with other Ministries, institutions, armed forces and police, was engaged in emergency operations to remove endangered victims to safety and provide immediate relief to all those affected by floods, earth-slips etc. He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa was personally monitoring the progress of the rescue and relief operations.

Several roads, including the Kandy-Badulla road, Padiyapala-Walapane road, Puttalam-Chilaw Main road, the A5 road between Nuwara-Eliya and Chenkaladi, Potuwill-Panama road and the Nuwara-Eliya-Welimada road were closed due to floods and earth slips.

DMC together with the police and the security forces were making every effort to clear the blocked roads, the Minister said.

More than 15,000 acres of paddy land were under water in the Eastern Province and in several areas including Lahugala, Putuvil, Panama, and Elabada. Cultivated land in Dambulla was also inundated.

According to the Railway Department, train services in some areas had been disrupted by floods. The Up-country main line night mail, Rajarata Rajini from Colombo to Omanthai via Vavuniya had not been able to operate during to floods, SLR said.

Irrigationa and Water Management Ministry, Water Management Director T. P. Meegastenna said that due to the heavy rains, 31 of the 71 tanks were overflowing and 16 sluice gates of the Rajanganaya tank, six of the Weheragala tank, six of the Lunugamwehera and four of the Tabbowa tank had been opened. Other major reservoirs in the above eight districts were overflowing, she said.

She also said that the Walawe Ganga, Amban Ganga, Maduru Oya, Daduru Oya, Yan Oya, Mee Oya and Mahawali Ganga were in full spate and people living on low-lying areas had to take precautions.

Spill gates of the Wemedilla Reservoir in Dambulla and four spill gates of the Nachchaduwa Reservoir had also been opened, Meegastenna said.

Meanwhile, the National Building Research Organization (NBRO) has warned that some areas in the Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Badulla and Matale Districts are prone to landslides and rock falls if rains continue for the next 24 hours.

The Meteorology Department said that the rains and cold weather would continue for a few more days.

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