Storms bring earthslips, 8 deaths, 4 missing
(FASTNEWS|COLOMBO) – As some parts of the country continued to be buffeted by the Monsoon’s strong winds and heavy rainfall, all District Secretaries have been disbursed Rs. 1 million each in contingency funds to meet any emergency situation, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said yesterday. At the same time, in other drought-affected parts of the country, up to half a million people remain with livelihoods disrupted and health under threat due to heat and lack of water.
DMC media spokesman Pradeep Kodippili disclosed that the funds have been disbursed by the Public Administration, Disaster Management and Rural Economic Affairs Ministry and that more funds would be disbursed if a disaster situation occurred due to the current stormy conditions.
Presently the storm conditions have already brought about several minor earthslips and flash floods in the Hillcountry over the past two days resulting in four deaths so far, the DMC official said. He said that armed services and Police disaster response units remain on alert ready to be deployed immediately for any rescue mission.
Several Navy teams are currently deployed with boats and equipment in the Ratnapura area since Thursday on rescue missions amidst the series of flash floods and earthslips in that area.
The body of the second girl, who went missing earlier at Torrington Estate, Agrapathana, was found yesterday. Two schoolgirls of the same family had been caught in a flash flood and were washed away while returning from school. After search operations on Thursday, Police found one girl, but she died after admission to hospital.
The body of a victim of the landslide that destroyed at least 10 shops in Ginigathhena was also found yesterday and he has been identified as an owner of one of the destroyed shops. The fourth victim of the inclement weather was a motorcyclist (29) and he died on Thursday night when a tree fell on him at Oruthota as he was riding on Kandy-Mahiyangana road.
Kodippili said that as at yesterday noon, the flood waters in Ratnapura was receding, but the evacuated communities, now in temporary accommodation in Ratnapura, Ayagama, Kiriella and Elapatha, were being advised not to return to their homes yet. The DMC said that the water level of the Kalu Ganga was further rising as at noon, yesterday, and requests people living in downstream to be extra vigilant.
The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) has issued landslide early warnings for several specific areas in the Ratnapura, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Kegalle, Kalutara, Matara and Galle districts as at yesterday. The DMC requests the public to be vigilant for pre-landslide signs and to immediately evacuate if such signs appeared.
Kodippili said that roads had been blocked in many areas yesterday morning due to fallen trees and tree branches.
According to the Meteorology Department, Dunkeld Estate in Nuwara Eliya received the highest rainfall of 251.5mm in the 24 hours ended at yesterday noon. The Met. Department predicted that the prevailing windy conditions over the country and surrounding sea areas and showery conditions in the Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces were likely to continue.
The DMC also advised the fishermen to refrain from fishing in the sea area extending from Mannar to Pottuvil via Puttalam, Colombo, Galle and Hambantota until Sunday (21st). Naval units were also asked to be vigilant, as the above sea areas could get very rough at times as wind speeds were expected to rise up to 70-80 kmph.
“Heavy rainfall of about 100mm is likely in some places in the Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces. Fairly heavy falls of above 50 mm can be expected at some places in the Kalutara, Galle and Matara districts. Very strong gusty winds up to 70-80 kmph are likely over the island, particularly in the Western, Southern, Central, Sabaragamuwa, North-western and North-central provinces and in Trincomalee district. Strong gusty winds of up to 50-60 kmph can be expected elsewhere,” the Met. Department’s weather forecast said.
It said that showery and windy conditions are likely to continue in the north-western, western, south-western and southern sea areas of the island until Sunday morning.
According to the DMC situation report as at yesterday noon, 1,451 persons belonging to 583 families had been affected in the Ratnapura district due to high winds, floods and heavy rains. Another 759 persons belonging to 175 families had been affected in the Nuwara Eliya district.
Meanwhile, more than 500,000 persons of over 100,000 families are still affected by drought prevailing in some parts of the island. The drought affected families are in the Kegalle, Puttalam, Kurunegala, Vavuniya, Jaffna, Mannar, Killinochchi, Mulaitivu, Matale, Kandy, Hambantota, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura districts, according to DMC reports. The general public is requested to contact the DMC’s emergency hotline 117 for more information regarding the prevailing weather situation and warnings. (DN)