Mon, May 29, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Aid push for flood-hit Sri Lanka

AFP, COLOMBO

Residents on Saturday make their way through floodwaters in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Photo: Reuters

Emergency teams yesterday rushed to distribute aid to half a million Sri Lankans displaced after the island’s worst flooding in more than 10 years claimed 141 lives and left scores more missing.

Floodwaters were receding in some areas after a break in the rain, giving authorities a chance to deliver much-needed supplies to people who lost everything as torrents of water swept away their homes.

Many villages were still underwater, officials said.

Medical teams were dispatched to the worst-affected areas to help prevent an outbreak of waterborne diseases.

“We have the expertise to deal with this situation,” Sri Lankan Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne said, adding that cholera and diarrhea had been successfully prevented in past floods.

Heavy rains on Friday triggered the worst flooding and landslides in 14 years in the southern and western parts of the island.

The Sri Lankan Disaster Management Centre said 112 people remained missing as of yesterday morning while about 50 injured in landslides were hospitalized.

Most of the victims were killed when mountainsides collapsed on homes, Senaratne said.

Nearly 500,000 people were forced from their homes and most of them had moved into temporary shelters, he said.

The government withdrew an evacuation order for thousands of residents in Matara District as water levels subsided.

“The threat of floods around the Nilvala [river] has subsided,” Sri Lankan Department of Irrigation Director M. Thuraisingham said. “The flood levels near Colombo have also gone down because we did not have rain in the past 24 hours.”

Water levels in Ratnapura, the gem district east of Colombo, subsided but many villages in Kalutara, south of the capital, were still underwater, officials said.

The military has deployed helicopters, boats as well as amphibious vehicles to rescue marooned people and deliver food and other essentials to victims.

Sri Lanka has also sought international help and India rushed a naval ship equipped with a medical team and other supplies.

The UN said it would give water containers, water purification tablets and tarpaulin sheets while the WHO would support medical teams in affected areas.

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