COLOMBO: India on Saturday rushed relief materials and deployed rescue personnel in Sri Lanka as the country faced its worst floods since 2003 that claimed the lives of nearly 120 people and displaced half a million.
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.
Nearly half a million people have been displaced due to the flood and earth slips, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said, adding 119 people have died so far while over 150 are missing.
“A total of 493,455 people are now housed in 185 relief camps and health care facilities are being provided to them,” Senatatne said.
The incessant south western monsoon has caused havoc since Thursday night with people in 14 of the island’s 25 districts being affected.
The south western region of Ratnapura was worst affected. Over 350,000 people have no electricity.
The water levels in most main rivers have swelled, threatening more areas of submerge, Irrigation Department officials said.
Sri Lanka’s tri-forces personnel including more than 1,000 army troops were engaged in the rescue and relief operations.
A Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) airman died after falling from a helicopter during a flood rescue operation in Neluwa area in Galle.