Sri Lanka flood toll rises

2011-01-14 09:02

Colombo - The number of people killed in Sri Lanka's monsoon flooding and mudslides has risen to 27 with more than a million people still displaced by the devastating disaster, officials said on Friday.

The government's Disaster Management Centre said 27 people were confirmed dead while another 12 were listed as missing following a week of heavy rains that caused floods and earthslips in the eastern, northern and central regions.

"The water levels have begun to go down, but the number of people moving to state-run relief camps is going up," a spokesperson for the DMC said.

He said more than a million people had seen their homes flooded and been forced to move out. The state was running 633 relief camps, more than double the number in operation on Thursday, he said.

He added that 367 000 people were being directly cared for by state agencies at the camps while others had moved in with friends and relatives on higher ground.

Weather chiefs said rains had eased across the eastern region and many roads were now clear of floodwaters, making it easier for supplies to get in.

Relief efforts

Vast tracts of land were still under water with the agricultural ministry estimating that nearly a fifth of the country's rice farms were inundated and crops destroyed.

Security forces have been helping with relief operations and 3 000 soldiers have been deployed in the east of the island along with military helicopters.

The United Nations and local and international aid agencies were also involved in the relief effort.

Seven trucks loaded with Unicef supplies, including water tanks, tarpaulins, chlorine tablets, sleeping mats and cooking gear, reached Ampara and Batticaloa districts in the east, the agency said in a statement.

Sri Lanka depends on monsoon rains for irrigation and power generation, but the seasonal downpours frequently cause death and damage to property in low-lying areas as well as mountainous regions.

The island's two main monsoon seasons run from May to September and December to February.