Flash Floods Across Sri Lanka Displace 46,000


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Three days of heavy rainfall have caused flash floods in northern and central areas of Sri Lanka. Eastern, North-Central, Northern and North-Western provinces have all seen heavy rain since Saturday 20 December 2014. Sri Lanka’s Disaster management Centre (DMC) say that as many as 452,960 people have been affected by floods or landslides in the past 3 days.

Evacuations

DMC say that around 46,000 people have evacuated their homes and are currently staying in temporary accommodation, including local schools and community centres. Some of the latest TV news reports in Sri Lanka have the total number displaced as being much higher at over 200,000. This as yet has been unconfirmed by Sri Lanka authorities.

Eastern province is thought to be the worst affected. According to the latest situation report from Sri Lanka’s Disaster management Centre (DMC), over 30,000 people from the districts of Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Ampara. DMC also say that 3 deaths have occurred in the province as a result of the recent floods. One person was reported as injured in the floods in Anuradhapura, North Central Province.

The huge amounts of rain have increased river and reservoir levels across the provinces, forcing the authorities to open flood gates. Xinhua report that 29 of the big dams and 83 of the medium ones have reached spill level, forcing sluice gates to be opened, threatening people living downriver.

President Calls for Relief for Flood Victims

In a statement made earlier today, President Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed the authorities to provide immediate relief. DMC confirmed that the distribution of food and other relief for those affected by the inclement weather was being carried out through the District Secretaries with the coordination of other regional stakeholders and tri-forces personnel.

More Rain and Possible Landslides

As the heavy rain continues, the threat of landslide is increasing. Sri Lanka is still recovering from the disaster of Wednesday 29 October 2014, when heavy rain led to a mudslide in the Meeriyabedda tea plantation near the town of Haldummulla.

The National Department of Meteorology has issued an Amber Warning for further rainfall and strong winds. Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) warned people to be alert to the possibility of landslides and cut slope failures in Matale, Kandy, Badulla and Nuwara Eliya.

WMO Rainfall Totals, 24 Hour Period from 21 to 22 December

Badulla – 56.8 mm
Batticaloa – 84.6 mm
Trincomalee – 59.6 mm
Anuradhapura – 72.9
Vavuniya – 61.9 mm
Maha Illuppallama – 76.3 mm
Puttalam – 52.8 mm
Mannar – 52.8 mm