officials seek foreign aid and advice on reconstruction
AROUND 100 people still miss ing following landslides in Sri Lanka last week are to be beli eved dead, authorities said last Saturday (28), after failing to find any signs of life under ton nes of mud.
The Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said 67 bodies had been recovered from the
worsthit central district of Kegalle where 99 people were still listed as missing following theraintriggeredMay 17 disaster.
“The military is keeping up a search, but there is no hope of finding anyone alive now,” DMC spokesman Pradeep Kodippili said. “The 99 people missing in the landslides are believed to be dead.”
Heavy rains also triggered floods across much of the country last week and claimed 37 lives in addition to those killed in the landslides, according to the DMC.
A military official in Kegalle, 100 km (60 miles)
northastof Colombo, admitted that search operations were hampered by continuous rain in the region.
The government said floods and landslides caused by heavy rain drove over 600,000 people from their homes, but most of them have since returned with water levels subsiding.
Finance minister Ravi Karunanayake revealed that 35,000 homes were damaged in last week’s floods. It was triggered by the heaviest rain for early 25 years, with the capital Colombo the hardest hit.
“We are looking at the maximum possible support,” the minister told reporters, adding that he expected foreign countries would foot about 75 per cent of reconstruction costs.
Sri Lanka has received emergency foreign aid, including from India, which dispatched two naval ships and an aircraft loaded with supplies.
“This disaster hit families living in both rural and urban areas,” Igor Dmitryuk, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Sri Lanka, said.
“The priority is to meet their immediate needs with food, lean water, clothing and household items,” he added.
Karunanayake blamed ram- pant construction in
low lyingparts of Colombo that had been designated as storm water collection points, as reasons for the flooding which hit about one- third of the city’s residents.
“The main cause is the filling of marshland and putting up of buildings,” the minister said.
Karunanayake said strict new building codes would be introduced to prevent such land being reclaimed for construction in future.
The minister has also called for overseas expertise in urban planning to prevent such disasters. (AFP, Reuters)