Sri Lanka hit by worst floods in fifty years

[TamilNet, Monday, 19 May 2003, 00:39 GMT]
At least one hundred thousand families were rendered homeless and about one hundred and fifty people died in flood and earthslip following continuous torrential rain now the country is experiencing. Five districts in the down south of the island Ratnapura, Kalutara, Galle, Hambantota and Matara have been badly affected by the floods, government sources said Sunday.

Meanwhile the Sri Lanka's meteorological department announced Sunday in its evening forecast that several parts of the country could experience more rain with strong winds within next twenty-four hours, government sources said.

In one incident about seventy-five persons are reported to have been buried in earthslip at Battagoda in Ratnapura district. Of them only sixteen bodies were recovered till noon Sunday, sources said.

The government has deployed armed forces to rescue people affected by flood in worst hit Ratnapura district, social services department said.

Social Services Ministry Secretary Ms V.Jegarajasingham confirmed the deaths of sixty-eight persons and several persons are said to have disappeared in flood and earthslip.

The Prime Minister has set up a disaster management committee chaired by Minister Mr.Karu Jayasuriya to attend emergency services in flood-hit districts, sources said.

The Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe Sunday evening flew into Ratnapura town accompanied by ministers Messrs Tilak Marapone, John Amaretunge, Karu Jayasuriya and Ravindra Samaraweera. The Norwegian deputy foreign minister Mr. Vidar Helgessen also went with the Prime Minister, sources said.

Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe addressing a conference at the Ratnapura district secretariat Sunday evening described the flood as the worst since 1947. He directed the authorities concerned to provide immediate relief to flood victims, sources said.

The Prime Minister said accurate figures regarding the number of displaced families and persons died due to flood and earthslip could be revealed by Wednesday. The divisional secretaries are unable to visit their areas to collect casualty figures soon because of the breakdown of transport services. All trunk roads in the south of the country are under floodwater, transportation sources said.

In the meantime the Minister of Education Dr.Karunasena Kodituwakku Sunday directed the Commissioner of Examinations to postpone the GCE advanced level examination until the flood situation improves, sources said.

 

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