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15 killed, 19,000 trapped as heavy rains batter Sri Lanka, schools shut for today

Heavy rains in Sri Lanka exceeding 300 mm have triggered floods, caused landslides and uprooted trees in several parts, trapping thousands of people. The government has suspended electricity supply in some areas and schools have been shut in the wake of this situation.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Colombo Updated on: June 03, 2024 12:13 IST
Villagers walk through a flooded road in Biyagama, Sri
Image Source : REUTERS Villagers walk through a flooded road in Biyagama, Sri Lanka.

Colombo: At least 15 people were killed and more than 19,000 others from over 5,000 families were trapped over the weekend as severe monsoonal downpours inflicted widespread devastation in Sri Lanka, authorities said on Sunday. Torrential downpours exceeding 300 mm have triggered flash floods, uprooted trees, unleashed strong winds, and lightning, and caused landslides in the country, as per authorities.

The fatalities were reported from seven districts, including the capital Colombo, according to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC). Twenty of the 25 administrative districts have been severely affected due to the rains. More than 4,000 homes have suffered partial damage, with 28 houses completely obliterated.

The Sri Lankan Army has mobilised seven teams equipped with boats for rescue operations. The Air Force has put three helicopters on standby for immediate emergency response in the affected areas. Anticipating further rainfall and flooding, the Ministry of Education has announced the closure of all schools across the island for Monday.

As a precautionary measure, the Ministry of Power and Energy has suspended electricity supplies to several areas. The National Building Research Centre issued red notices for landslides for four districts.

According to the BBC, three members of the same family died when their house outside Colombo was flooded. Landslide warnings had been issued in nine districts. DMC Director Pradeep Kodippili said the risk of flooding was rapidly increasing in Colombo and other areas of the south. "Many areas have reportedly received more than 400mm of rain so far. The minor flood risk is increasing to a major flood risk," Kodippili said.

Earlier, it was reported that six people died after being washed away and drowning in the capital, Colombo, and the remote Rathnapura district on Sunday, according to the disaster management center. Three others died when mounds of earth collapsed on their houses, and one person died when a tree fell on him. 

Sri Lanka has been grappling with severe weather conditions since mid-May caused by heavy monsoon rains. The DMC had earlier issued a major flood alert in several areas during heavy rains, advising families living in low-lying areas to evacuate to higher grounds. In separate news elsewhere, the UN's children agency has wrned that tens of thousands of children in Afghanistan remain affected by ongoing flash floods.

Unusually heavy seasonal rains have been wreaking havoc on multiple parts of Afghanistan, killing hundreds of people and destroying property and crops. The UN food agency has warned that many survivors are unable to make a living, adding that heavy rains have killed over 300 people in the South Asian country in May, mostly in Baghlan province.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Afghanistan: Heavy rainfall led floods take lives of 50, injures at least 100


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