The death toll in Sri Lanka’s floods has climbed to 202 with 94 people still missing in the country’s worst torrential rains since 2003 that displaced nearly half a million people. The Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said at least 629,742 people of 163,701 families have been affected by the bad weather. The DMC said 1,505 houses had been fully damaged while 7,617 houses were partially damaged due to the floods and landslides. Around DMC 77, 432 people have been displaced. “There was a good news on the receding water levels in rivers during the past 24 hours due to the low rainfall that ended at 3.30 pm,” the Irrigation Department said. Director (Hydrology) P Hettiarachchi said the water levels in the Kalu Ganga and the Gin Ganga was decreasing.
Indian naval divers and medical teams have joined rescue efforts in Lanka’s flood-hit regions. The Indian contingent of more than 300 navy personnel was assisting in the relief, with divers searching the brackish waters and medical teams seeing patients in makeshift tents set up at shelters.
INS ‘Shardul’ has nearly 200 personnel on board, including specialised rescue, diving and medical teams, as well as a large amount of relief material and Gemini inflatable boats. INS ‘Kirch’ was carrying 125 personnel. It had diving teams, relief supplies, inflatable gemini boats and a mobile medical teams. A third Indian naval ship arrived today, bringing relief supplies including rice, lentils, sugar, milk and blankets for the displaced.
The weather has begun to clear, and many of the more than 100,000 people, evacuated over the weekend, had returned home to clear debris and mud from their waterlogged homes. More than 80,000 others remained in relief camps as their homes were either destroyed or wiped out. The two rivers overflowing was the main reason for severe flooding more particularly in the southern Galle and Kalutara districts.
The government has initiated efforts to purify wells and other potable water sources which have been contaminated by the floods as tens of thousands of affected people are left without safe drinking water.
Mudslides have become common during Sri Lanka’s summer monsoon season as forests across the tropical Indian Ocean island nation have been cleared for export crops such as tea and rubber. A massive landslide a year ago killed more than 100 people in central Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka had sought international assistance, with India sending three naval ships laden with supplies in the last a couple of days. Following India’s lead in sending out emergency relief to Sri Lanka, more countries started pledging assistance to provide relief to the flood victims. Australia has said it would provide 500,000 dollars. A Pakistani relief ship arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday. At least three Chinese ships will come a day after tomorrow.