Thousands flee floods, landslides in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO • Floods and landslides in Sri Lanka have killed at least eight people, including a 10-month-old baby, and forced tens of thousands more to flee their homes, officials said on yesterday.

The government has deployed troops to evacuate people living on slopes or in flood-hit areas and the navy is helping clear canals in the capital Colombo to stop low-lying areas, including the Parliament complex, from flooding.

"We have placed troops at the disposal of the authorities to carry out rescue operations as well as relief work," Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi told reporters.

Disaster management centre spokesman Pradeep Kodippili said nearly 5,000 families living in flooded areas had been moved to relief centres.

Thousands more have left flooded homes to move in with friends and relatives.

The official toll of eight could rise, with some areas still inaccessible after fallen trees and power lines blocked roads.

At least three flights were diverted from the main airport in Colombo yesterday and many schools in the capital remained closed.

The meteorological department said 262mm of rain fell in the airport area in the 24 hours ended at 5.30am on yesterday.

It has warned of further severe weather due to a depression in the Bay of Bengal and says rain could continue until tomorrow.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'Thousands flee floods, landslides in Sri Lanka'. Print Edition | Subscribe