Sri Lanka: Thunderstorms leave 3 dead, 175,000 displaced
Tue, May 18, 2010
The Island/Asia News Network

SRI LANKA - Three persons were killed and 175,000 from 40,000 families were displaced in three districts following the lashing rains experienced yesterday morning. Initial reports said that 160 houses had been damaged by floods.

Three persons who had gone for a swim in a river at Divulapitiya were drawn in by the currents.

Heavy rains accompanied by lightning and thunder would continue for the next 24 hours as pre-monsoon showers lashed the Western, Sabaragamuwa and Southern Provinces, the Meteorology Department Duty Forecaster, said yesterday.

Disaster Management Ministry Assistant Director Pradeep Kodippili said that 2,720 families consisting of 13,316 persons had been affected and the Disaster Management and Social Services department had commenced relief assistance. According to latest reports, Galle, too, began to experience heavy showers and people in Habaraduwa, Akmeemana, Batapala and Kaburugamuwa have sought relief assistance.

Kodippli said that according reports received from the Gampaha Divisional Secretariat, around 5,000 persons had been affected and in the Colombo area about 8,000 had sought assistance.

He added that on the instructions of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, District Secretaries in Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara had been given one million rupees each by Disaster Management Ministry for immediate relief measures.

Heavy rains began lashing the city and suburbs early last morning. In the Western Province, the Gampaha, Nittambuwa, Matugama and Colombo areas were badly affected with many schools closed due to poor attendance of children and teachers. Office workers were stranded and bus and train commuters confined to bus stands, bus halts and railway stations.

The Colombo-Kandy main road was impassable at several places while almost all city roads were under water.

Three wheelers were seen stalled and submerged on almost every city road.

Yesterday's rain fall was higher than what had been experienced last Friday.

The Met Department attributed heavy rains to low pressure disturbances in the Bay of Bengal and warned that yesterday's rain was only the tip of the iceberg and that the monsoon proper was due in a few days.

Meanwhile, the Government instructed Government Agents in the Western and Sabaragamuwa Provinces to make arrangements with the help of the Navy to evacuate people and make immediate arrangements to provide them with cooked meals.

Several long distance trains and buses were cancelled yesterday as tracks were damaged and several roads impassable.

The rainfall figures for the Western province are: Colombo 53.2 mm, Gampaha 283 mm, Nittambuwa 313 mm, Matugama 94.8 mm, Pasyala 253.5 mm, Kalutara 219 .5 mm, Hanwella 210 mm, Negombo 129 mm, Kukulegama 188 mm and Ratmalana 120 mm. These were readings during the 24 hours ending 8.30 a.m. yesterday.

Meanwhile, Petroleum Corporation said an oil pipe had burst near the Kelanitissa Power Station and oil was flowing freely. Action was being taken to repair the damaged pipe.

- The Island/Asia News Network

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