Colombo: Heavy rains accompanied by lightning claimed at least seven lives and displaced more than 1,000 people in Sri Lanka, officials said. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said lighting killed six people and a landslide killed another in the island nation.
The Disaster Management Centre said 1,024 people were moved to 20 safe locations. Hundreds of army men and police were deployed to carry out relief work and rescue operations as heavy rains caused flash floods in many parts of the country.
Sri Lanka has been experiencing heavy rains since Sunday, prompting the government to issue landslide warnings for five districts. The meteorology department warned of thundershowers with strong winds over the next 24 hours and asked people to take precautions against lightning.
Sri Lanka has suffered frequent natural calamities in recent years. More than 200 people were killed in mudslides and floods during monsoon rains last May. Two houses were damaged in a landslide in Marikkar Street in Kalutara district while another house was damaged in Beruwala. The 150-year-old tunnel which connects Kandy to Aniwatte has become vulnerable with the adverse weather conditions. The authorities have closed the tunnel. The residents say they are inconvenienced by this move.
The central province has received a rainfall of more than 100mm during the past days. Colombo has also experienced a rainfall of 100mm. Heavy rain, strong winds were predicted in both inland and sea areas in the coming days due to the South West monsoon which is said to be breaking in. Heavy showers which may exceed 150mm was predicted in the Sabaragamuwa province while showers of more than 100 mm were predicted elsewhere.
President orders speedy relief
Meanwhile, President Maithripala Sirisena has directed the authorities to provide immediate relief to the people affected by the adverse weather conditions throughout the country. The President said funding should not be a problem in this endeavour and as such the authorities should find out the relief which should be given by the government and provide it without any delay. The President made this directive after reviewing the relief work in progress to assist affected people and seeking information from district and divisional secretaries. The President has also directed that help of the army and police should be sought to evacuate people affected by floods.