37 dead, 155 missing in Sri Lanka floods and landslides

Landslides in Sri Lanka have killed at least 150 people after days of heavy rain.
Sri Lankan military personnel looking for villagers buried in landslides yesterday.
Sri Lankan military personnel looking for villagers buried in landslides yesterday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

COLOMBO • Sri Lanka's President mourned the island's "devastating loss" yesterday as the death toll from three days of torrential rain and landslides rose to 37, with more than 150 missing and rescuers still pulling bodies from the mud.

President Maithripala Sirisena flew to a central tea-growing Kegalle area where images taken from a helicopter showed floodwaters engulfing entire villages and forested hills deluged with reddish mud.

The Disaster Management Centre's updated toll came after bodies were pulled out of the mud in the central village of Aranayake and neighbouring Bulathkohupitiya.

"A total of 37 people have been killed, 28 wounded... in weather- related incidents in the past three days," Disaster Management Centre spokesman Pradeep Kodippili said. In total 155 people are still missing.

Kegalle was prone to landslides and many people living there had fled their homes after the rains.

Nearly 350,000 people have been hit by flooding in Sri Lanka and 200,000 are sheltering in state-run welfare centres.

The weather department said the heavy rains were caused by a depression in the Bay of Bengal and were expected to subside yesterday.

In India, the same depression has triggered heavy rains in the south-east and east, affecting millions of people as cyclone warnings were issued in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline '37 dead, 155 missing in Sri Lanka floods and landslides'. Print Edition | Subscribe