Sri Lankan military steps in to evacuate flood victims

Heavy rain has led to flooding and landslides in the island nation, leading to the deaths of at least 103 people with many more missing.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The military used large armored vehicles and boats to transport people to safety but some remained trapped in interior villages where boats have been unable to reach.

The Sri Lankan military conducted a relief operation Saturday as 230,000 people were driven from their homes after an intense monsoon deluge killed at least 103 people while another 113 have gone missing.

Rainfall on Friday triggered the worst flooding and landslides in 14 years in the southern and western parts of the island, authorities said.

Home Affairs minister Vajira Abeywardena said that while the worst of the rain was over, there was a danger of fresh flooding downstream and urged people living in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.

TRT World's Laura Bain has more.

The military conducted search operations in landslide-hit areas and the airforce deployed five aircraft for rescue operations and another five to transport emergency supplies to villagers who could not be reached by road.

Abeywardena said the government was air dropping 10,000 life jackets for marooned people until they could be moved to safer ground and has set up 104 temporary shelters in public buildings for survivors.

Indian supplies

An Indian naval ship equipped with medical supplies docked in Colombo Saturday.

Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu said a second larger vessel was expected in Colombo on Monday with more aid.

"When you feel the pain, we also feel the pain," the envoy said while formally handing over the Indian aid to Sri Lanka's Foreign minister Ravi Karunanayake at the Colombo port.

The Indian aid included a medical team as well as inflatable boats and medicine.

India has offered more aid, including helicopters, to boost the relief operations, government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said.

The worst of its kind in 14 years

The flooding is the worst since May 2003 when 250 people were killed and 10,000 homes destroyed after a similarly powerful monsoon, officials said.

Monsoon rains last year caused flooding and landslides, killing just over 100 people.

The DMC said the latest monsoon ended a prolonged drought that had threatened agriculture as well as hydropower generation.

TRTWorld and agencies