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Receding flood water raises threat of unexploded mines in SL

Unexploded mines,planted during the LTTE war,may have shifted from their places in the floods.

Written by Agencies | Colombo |
January 16, 2011 3:01:00 pm

The receding flood waters in eastern Sri Lanka are posing a new threat of unexploded mines planted during the war with the LTTE as they may have shifted during recent floods,officials said.

UN agencies and the military have warned the people returning home after the devastating floods to be wary of mines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) when the waters recede.

Once the battle field of the Sri Lankan war,the eastern province was the worst affected during recent floods that affected more than a million people.

“Floods and receding waters may unearth mines and ERW and carry explosives from contaminated areas into areas thought to be safe,” United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in their report on the flood situation.

“Regional Mine Action Centres are assessing the need to re-survey areas that are potentially affected by mines/ERW shifted by flooding,” the OCHA said.

Sri Lanka Army has also issued instructions to military installations in the flood-affected areas to issue warnings to both government officials and flood victims on possible threat of mines as a result of flood.

At least 37 persons were killed and another 12 gone missing in Sri Lankan flood which left more than 300,000 homeless,officials said.

State-run weekly the Sunday Observer said the estimated cost of the flood is around USD 500 million.

Sri Lankan officials earlier said the damage caused to the infrastructure and facilities was only second to the tsunami catastrophe in 2004 which claimed more than 30,000 lives.

India,United States and the European Union have provided assistance to flood victims while UN agencies and INGOs also provide relief.

Meanwhile,Sri Lankan mobile phone operators have started a campaign to assist a million flood victims by generating money via SMS text messages.

At least three mobile companies have asked their subscribers to donate Rs 10 sending an SMS to them. The companies say they will also add Rs 10 each for every message they will receive.

Sri Lanka,one of the earliest among nations to introduce mobile communications in South Asia as far back as 1989,has more than 15 million subscribers out of a total population of 20 million.

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