Sri Lanka flood death toll hits 11, thousands more homeless

People walk through a flooded road after they moved out from their houses in Biyagama, Sri Lanka, on May 17, 2016.
People walk through a flooded road after they moved out from their houses in Biyagama, Sri Lanka, on May 17, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

COLOMBO (AFP) - Emergency workers in Sri Lanka on Tuesday (May 17) found the bodies of a woman and two children killed in a landslide, taking the toll from two days of heavy rain to 11, with thousands more forced to flee their homes.

Another five people are missing across the island, parts of which have been underwater since Sunday, a spokesman for the Disaster Management Centre said.

"Over 200,000 individuals have been displaced by the floods and are being looked after at several welfare centres," Mr Pradeep Kodippili said.

The northern district of Kilinochchi received the highest rainfall of 373mm in the 24 hours ending on Tuesday morning - more than a quarter of the annual average rainfall in the region.

The government has deployed troops to evacuate people living on slopes or in flood-hit areas and the navy and the air force have also been called in to help with relief operations.

The troops have launched rescue operations in inundated areas of the Indian Ocean island, with boats and helicopters pulling more than 200 people trapped in the north-western coastal district of Puttalam to safety, officials said.

"This is the worst torrential rain we have seen since 2010,"said Mr Pradeep Kodippili, a spokesman for the disaster management centre.

Nineteen of Sri Lanka's 25 districts have been hit.

Heavy rains have also struck the neighbouring Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

More than 100 houses were damaged in coastal Kerala and about 50 families had been shifted to a relief camp in the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, a state official said.

The weather department has forecast heavy rains across Tamil Nadu over the next two days and warned fishermen not to go out to sea.

Flooded roads and fallen trees led to traffic jams in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

Trains were halted as water submerged railway tracks, officials said. Flooding and drought are cyclical in Sri Lanka, which is battered by a southern monsoon between May and September, while a north-eastern monsoon runs from December to February.

The meteorological department says the heavy rains could continue until Wednesday.