The death toll from devastating floods in Sri Lanka today rose to 150, prompting authorities to step up rescue operations and rush aid to nearly half a million people displaced by the worst torrential rains since 2003. Sri Lanka has sought international assistance. India, the first country to respond, dispatched three Navy ships with emergency supplies to help Sri Lanka. The first Indian ship reached here yesterday. A second Indian vessel — INS Shardul — arrived in Colombo today, with a third expected tomorrow. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake received the vessel.
The adverse weather conditions have caused flooding and landslides in Batticaloa, Colombo, Galle, Gampaha, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matale, Matara, Mulaitivu, Ratnapura, Trincomalee and Vavuniya. “The worst hit is the southern district of Galle,” a UN statement said. The Nilawala River faces the possibility of a dam burst which can put the entire Matara town under water, officials said.
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Around 4,42,299 people belonging to 1,14,124 families have been affected in 15 districts due to the flood situation, the Disaster Management Centre said today. The death toll has reached 150 with 112 still unaccounted for, it said. “Although the heavy rainy condition has reduced temporary, showery conditions are likely to enhance again over south-western part of the island from 29th May 2017,” the Meteorological Department said. Windy condition is expected to continue over the sea areas. These winds can be strengthened during the showers, it said.
The fishing community in the country have been alerted about the condition. Sri Lanka’s tri-forces personnel including more than 1,000 Army troops were engaged in the rescue and relief operations. The flooding is the worst since May 2003 when 250 people were killed and 10,000 homes destroyed after a similarly powerful Southwest monsoon, officials had said. Sri Lanka, which has been heavily deforested for cash crops, often witnesses landslides during the monsoon season.