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Aranayake buries its dead

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By Dharisha Bastians

While the military continued to dig bodies out of collapsing mountain slopes, weeping villagers buried 20 people together yesterday in the besieged town of Aranayake, after Tuesday’s landslide buried homes and people in its path.

 Among the dead was an army soldier, who was buried with military honours.

 The combined burial took place after family members identified the remains dug out of the rubble by military personnel over the past four days. 127 people remain missing and are feared dead in the landslide which completely buried at least 66 houses located on the mountain slopes, Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, who is running the search and rescue operation in Aranayake told Daily FT on Thursday.

 Since the burial, soldiers found the remains of at least one more person and were still recovering body parts buried in the soil and rubble washed down from the mountain, the Sri Lanka Red Cross said, bringing the total fatalities known so far to 21.

For a fourth day yesterday, 300 military personnel including elite commandos continued search operations, now increasingly aimed at recovering bodies rather than finding survivors. Soldiers worked in risky conditions, with rainy conditions continuing in the Kegalle District, washing torrents of mud and debris down the slopes in mini-landslides over the past four days. Even as the search continued, fresh warnings about landslides in Kegalle followed Met Department forecasts that Sri Lanka would continue to experience rain and windy conditions until Sunday (22).

The Disaster Management Centre counted 2846 displaced persons in Aranayake, now being sheltered at nine relief camps in the area. 


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