At least 37 die, thousands displaced in Sri Lanka monsoon

 At-least-37-die-thousands-displaced-in-Sri-Lanka-monsoon.  COLOMBO, Sri Lanka,  Floods and mudslides in Sri Lanka’s mountainous Kagalle district killed at least 37 people and left 134 unaccounted for.

Mudslides caused by three days of heavy rain have killed at least 37 people in Sri Lanka. Photo courtesy of Sri Lankan red Cross.

Landslides prompted by three days of rain and wind, at the start of the country’s monsoon season, have displaced at least 350,000 in the island nation, officials said Wednesday. A major landslide near the town of Aranayake struck Tuesday, and rescuers announced they were unable to get heavy equipment to the worst-hit sites.

Four camps have been established to house victims, and Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe, in charge of rescue operations in Aranayake, told the BBC that 1,100 people were in the camps.


Officials of the Sri Lankan Red Cross said they heard complaints from victims that no warnings regarding the mudslides were issued by government disaster agencies, prompting the comment from Mahiesh Johnney of the Red Cross, “The Disaster Management Center does not have the resources and manpower to go door to door in the endangered areas. It relies on getting these messages across to residents at risk from landslides, by using loudspeakers and megaphones. These warnings don’t always get transmitted in time.”

The Red Cross said 19 of the country’s 25 districts reported flash floods.

A stronger-than-normal monsoon was predicted for Sri Lanka this year, and the storm is predicted to move to the nearby southeast coast of India. Fishermen have been warned to stay in port, and the city of Chennai and the states of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry are preparing for heavy rain. India, meanwhile, has been experiencing drought conditions.

By Ed Adamczyk