Seven dead as rain wreaks havoc in Sri Lanka

Colombo, Dec 26 (IANS) At least seven people have died and 14 are missing in the north central and eastern regions of Sri Lanka as torrential rains made dams overflow, caused landslides and hampered transport, an official said Friday.

The state-run Disaster Management Center (DMC) has calculated that nearly 800,000 people have been affected while about 80,000 people have been displaced and are housed in shelters, according to Xinhua.
“The government has instructed the relevant authorities to take immediate measures to ensure relief for the families hit by the bad weather. So far an estimated $2.7 million have been disbursed by the government for relief measures,” Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told reporters.
Landslide warnings have been issued to 11 districts and trains to the central region have been suspended after earth mounds and boulders collapsed on to the track in several places.
Thousands have been evacuated by military and navy officials, including from tourist hot spots such as the north central town of Anuradhapura where ancient temple ruins are a popular attraction.
The towns of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa in the north central province are also home to some of Sri Lanka’s largest rice cultivations with hundreds of dams scattered around the region to provide water in the usually arid region.
Lashed by heavy showers for days as many as 300 of these dams have reached spillage level forcing sluice gates to be opened, threatening people living downriver. More than 7000 army personnel have now been deployed in flood-affected areas in more than five districts for rescue and relief operations on the directions of the Commander of the Army, Lt. Gen. Daya Ratnayake.
“Naval troops have rescued 180 people in flood relief operations,” navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasooriya told reporters.
Heavy rain is expected to continue over the weekend and into next week, hampering relief efforts.