NEW DELHI • Thousands of survivors of devastating floods and landslides in Sri Lanka are at risk of potentially fatal diseases such as dengue fever, charities warned as the death toll continued to rise.
State television yesterday broadcast calls for volunteers to clean drinking wells contaminated by the monsoon floods, the worst in 14 years after record rainfall in the island's south-west left 193 dead, 94 others missing and tens of thousands without clean drinking water.
"The threat of water-borne diseases is a big concern with over 100,000 people displaced from their homes, many of whom are staying in damp, crowded conditions," said Mr Chris McIvor, head of Save the Children Sri Lanka.
"I'm particularly worried we could start seeing even more dengue cases".
Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told reporters there was no spread of disease so far, but diarrhoea and skin diseases are expected later.
The Sri Lankan authorities have called for international assistance to help with search and rescue efforts, and have also appealed for aid ranging from boats, generators and mobile toilets to mosquito nets, clothes and clean drinking water.
Singapore will contribute US$100,000 (S$138,600) to kick-start a public fund-raising appeal by the Red Cross for victims of the disaster.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan have also written to their Sri Lankan counterparts to offer their condolences over the tragic loss of lives and destruction caused by the heavy rains, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.
"I am confident that Sri Lanka and her people will overcome this tragedy with resilience and fortitude, and emerge stronger than before," said Dr Balakrishnan in his letter.
Singapore Red Cross said in a statement that it would contribute US$50,000 in relief supplies for the time being. It also has two teams of disaster response volunteers on standby to be deployed to Sri Lanka in the coming weeks to assist with relief efforts. It will launch a public appeal for donations soon.
Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said that flood waters were receding yesterday as Cyclone Mora moved towards Bangladesh.
According to latest figures from the DMC, 112 people continue to be treated at state hospitals while more than 545,000 people have been affected. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people have been evacuated to safe shelters.
The floods would have an adverse impact on agricultural exports, putting pressure on the rupee, currency dealers said.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA