The Indian Navy today joined relief operations in Sri Lanka after heavy floods and landslides triggered by the heavy rainfall ravaged the island nation. Incidents related to the worst rainfall since 1970s have killed at least 100 people and left 110 missing in Sri Lanka, officials said yesterday.
The Indian Navy dispatched three ships to carry out relief operations in Sri Lanka as the government appealed for assistance from international community.
INS Kirch diverted to Colombo to render immediate assistance in flood relief operations, arrived in Colombo Port today. Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu handed over the relief items brought by INS Kirch to Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake.
Two more Indian Navy ships -- INS Shardul and INS Jalashwa -- have also left for Sri Lanka with relief materials including food medicines and water.
INS Jalashwa will sail out from Visakhapatnam today with HADR (Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief) that include relief material such as food, medicines and water. The ship will also carry medical and diving teams, boats and helicopters and is likely to reach late morning or by noon tomorrow.
The third ship INS Shardul with relief material, medical and diving teams left Kochi at 7 AM and is expected to reach Colombo tonight.
India's relief efforts were in response to Sri Lanka's plea for help to the international community as the death toll from flash floods and landslides continue to rise.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has activated the Emergency Response Unit of the Ministry, to coordinate rescue and relief measures related to the flood situation in several parts of Sri Lanka," Xinhua news cited a statement from the ministry as saying on Friday.
"In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in coordination with the Ministry of Disaster Management, has made an appeal to UN, International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) and neighbouring countries to provide assistance to affected people, especially in the areas of search and rescue operations."
Worst floods in Sri Lanka since 2003
This is the worst floods in Sri Lanka since 2003 and has already claimed 100 lives.
The Disaster Management Centre issued an urgent evacuation warning for residents living along the Kelani River and within the Divisional Secretariats of Kollonnawa, Kaduwela, Wellampitiya, Kelaniya, Biyagama, Sedawatte, Dompe, Hanwella, Padukka and Avissawella.
At least 200,382 people belonging to 52,603 families were affected in 14 districts. Further, 12,007 people belonging to 2,937 families were relocated to 69 safe locations as of Saturday morning, it said.
The death toll rose to 100 while 99 others were missing, it said.
Sri Lanka's tri-forces personnel including more than 1,000 Army troops were engaged in the rescue and relief operations. Evacuations have also begun in the outskirts of the capital as a flood warning has been issued due to the rising waters in three major rivers.
Sri Lankan Air Force and the Navy are working to provide relief to people stranded by floods with helicopters and boats deployed, an official has said.
A Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) airman died after falling from a helicopter during a flood rescue operation in Neluwa area in Galle.
Hours of rains and winds had inundates towns, railways and highways hampering transport services while the Education Ministry ordered schools to be shut due to the inclement weather. Over 600 millimeters of rain was recorded in some areas with other badly affected areas receiving rainfall ranging between 300 and 500 millimetres.
The Meteorology Department said that rain and windy conditions are expected to continue.
"Showers or thundershowers will occur at times in the Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Central and North-western provinces," it said.
Chief of Meteorological Department R S Jayasekera said while the peak of the monsoon had passed, more rains are expected during the next few days. Jayasekera said it is expected to intensify again on May 30.
The flooding is the worst since May 2003 when 250 people were killed and 10,000 homes destroyed after a similarly powerful Southwest monsoon, officials said.
Sri Lanka, which has been heavily deforested for cash crops, often witnesses landslides during the monsoon season.
Last year, more than 100 people were killed in a massive landslide in the country.