Deaths rise to 22 and 22,499 persons displaced
By Menaka Indrakumar and Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
Due to the savage mauling inflicted by the continuing floods and landslides, the death toll in the country has risen to 22, leaving 5,314 families and 22,449 persons stranded in its wake.
Authorities say the death toll is likely to rise due to the increasing flood levels, especially in the Kalutara District.
Although the government was understaffed when it came to handling matters like this, Minister of Disaster Management, Mahinda Amaraweera, attempting to absolve the government of complete responsibility for this calamity, said this horrendous catastrophe could have been averted to a certain degree if people built their abodes according to National Building Research Organization (NBRO) recommendations.
By 1 p.m. yesterday, 598 families and 2,535 persons were to share space in 14 safe locations.
However, the numbers displaced have since reached a staggering 7,592 families and 27,243 individuals, who only have 23 safe camps and temples to take temporarily shelter in.
In the havoc wreaked, 44 houses have been fully destroyed and 329 houses have been partly damaged.
Director of the National Disaster Relief Services Centre (NDRSC), Prasanna Chandith said, "The highest death toll of 14 was reported in the Kalutara District, followed by four in Ratnapura, two in Colombo and one each in Matara and Kurunegala, while two persons have gone missing in Akuressa and Biyagama. In Gampaha eight persons have been injured."
He added, "The present death toll will most probably increase due to the rising flood levels in the Walallawita area in the Kalutara District.
The Walallawita Divisional Secretariat has moved its office to a safer location and more of our officers from Colombo have been rushed to the Kalutara District to take stock of the situation."
Meanwhile, the NBRO, while stating that rainfall would continue at 100 millimetres, issued another 24-hour Level 2 landslide warning requesting extreme vigilance from citizens in the in high risk Districts of Kalutara (Agalawatta, Palinda Nuwara, Matugama, Bulathsinhala, Kalutara and Walallawita), Galle (Neluwa and Thawalama), Ratnapura (Kalawana, Elapatha, Ratnapura, Balangoda, Eheliyagoda and Nivithigala), Kegalle (Yatiyanthota, Deraniyagala, Ruwanwella and Dehiowita), Badulla (Haldummulla) and Nuwara Eliya (Ambagamuwa and Nuwara Eliya) for possible landslides, rock falls and cut slope failures.