COLOMBO,T. RAMAKRISHNAN:With the authorities continuing rescue and relief operations, the Sri Lanka government on Thursday called the flood situation in the country as one being “under control.”
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera along with Minister of Disaster Management Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, who briefed international community of the situation, later said a coordinating committee had been set up to work out details on the possible requirements. He was responding to a query by The Hindu whether any proposal had been submitted. Mr. Yapa said donors had been requested to provide motor equipment, boats and purification tablets.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths rose to 58 with Kegalle district accounting for 34. The Disaster Management Centre of the government on Thursday officially stated that in Aranayaka of the district, where a landslip occurred on Tuesday night, 16 persons died. No body was recovered during the day. Fourteen persons died in Bulathkohupitiya and four in Dehiovita, both of which is located in Kegalle. All 132 missing persons were from the same district, of whom 128 were in Aranayaka.
Landslips unlikely here
Describing the landslip as “the worst,” Mr. Yapa said Aranayaka was one among those places which were considered less vulnerable to landslips. “We had anticipated landslips to happen in high-risk areas but not here.” Identifying “human intervention” with the nature as the main cause, the Minister said land use plan (in Aranayaka) had to be amended with stringent building laws and codes.
Earlier in the day, there were reports of the authorities not reaching out to the flood-hit people in areas such as Kelaniya Thalawatha on the outskirts of Colombo. Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Eran Wickramaratne and the President’s Office conveyed to this correspondent that the matter would be brought to the notice of officials concerned.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited the affected areas and Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran called upon the Central government to chalk out more measures for safeguarding the lives of people in the areas.
Gayoom conveys his shock
President of the Maldives Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom conveyed his surprise and shock over the devastating floods and the U.N. Resident Coordinator Una McCauley assured the government of the U.N. group’s support.