2 landslides triggered by torrential rain over the past 3 days have forced almost 200,000 to flee their homes, with over 100 people feared dead.

Bad weather hampering rescue efforts.
Bad weather hampering rescue efforts. (AFP (Archive))

More than 150 people are feared dead after more than three days of heavy rain triggered two landslides in central Sri Lanka, disaster officials said on Wednesday as rescuers stopped searching after recovering more than a dozen bodies.

Torrential rains have forced almost 200,000 people to flee their homes.

The exact death toll is currently unknown after military officials put the number of deaths at 37 but Sri Lanka Red Cross official Neville Nanayakkara said the toll is much higher.

"At that meeting, it was revealed that around 300-400 people are feared to have died in the Aranayaka landslide," he said.

More than 350 people were rescued in landslide affected areas across the country early on Wednesday.

Rescue efforts have focused on the town of Aranayaka, 100 km northeast of the capital Colombo, where three villages in the district of Kegalle were hit the hardest.

The Red Cross has set up a welfare camp for survivors.

Police say another landslide at Bulathkohupitiya, also in Kegalle district, had buried at least 16 people.

Military spokesman Jayanath Jayaweera says troops have recovered 13 bodies from both sites.

Troops are using boats and helicopters to pull survivors to safety.

Flooding and droughts are frequent in Sri Lanka, which is battered by a southern monsoon between May and September, while a northeastern monsoon runs from December to February.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies