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Fresh warnings for floods and landslides

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Monday, 29 May 2017 01:00


IN-1From left: Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Government Information Department Director General Dr. Ranga Kalansooriya (Appeal officer - RTI) and Military Spokesman Brigadier A.W. M. P. Roshan Seneviratne - Pic by Nisal Baduge

  • More rain, strong winds predicted
  • Conflicting warnings on Bolgoda Lake bund leads to confusion
  • Irrigation Dept. admits lack of funding led to neglect of flood retention dams

By Chathuri Dissanayake

As the country is still struggling to come to terms with the destruction and tragedy that unfolded last week, the Disaster Management Centre yesterday issued fresh landslide and flood warnings, as weather patterns changed due to a depression in the Bay of Bengal while conflicting reports and instructions issued by different organisations regarding the flood retention wall of Bolgoda lake dam led to confusion.

There will be strong winds over the country within the next 48 hours with rainfall of up to 100 mm in most of the flood-affected areas and central hill areas, Met Department’s Director General S.R. Jayasekara said at a news briefing convened by the Disaster Management Centre (DMC).

Warnings issued by the Police Media Unit and Kalutara District Secretary about a possible breach of the flood retention bund at Panapitiya Bolgoda lake, advising residents in Panadura, Bandaragama, Moronthoduwa and Aguruwathota to be vigilant..

However, failure to carry out timely maintenance has resulted in leaks and a threat of collapse of several flood retention walls. According to the Irrigation Department, a possible breach of flood retention bunds along different areas of the Nilvala Ganga and Gin Ganga in the Southern Province and the Kalu Ganga in the Western Province put three coastal districts in the country - Galle Matara and Kalutara - under further threat.

“These walls have to be repaired periodically after construction. We have not carried out any repair work. In some areas we have been monitoring cracks. There were two different proposals to repair the flood retention bund of Nilvala River but there were no funds allocated for it, so we had to put it on hold,” Irrigation Department Director General M. Thuraisingham explained when asked why precautionary measures were not taken to repair the bund earlier.

Teams from the Sri Lanka Army and Navy are working to put up sandbag barriers to fortify the bunds to prevent a possible breach.  

People in 14 districts in Sri Lanka that have been affected by the floods and landslides face similar situations. According to a DMC report as at 5.00 a.m. 151 persons have died and 111 are reported missing. Another 95 people have been injured since last Thursday (25).

Rescue work by the security forces in the country are still continuing, with the number of troops deployed by the Sri Lanka Army increasing to 1,700 today. The Army has also deployed 15 troop carriers for the transportation of troops and affected people with another 15 on standby, Sri Lanka Army Spokesperson Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne said.

Cooked food and basic relief items were airdropped in remote locations, while the Air Force was able to airlift six boats, crew members and generators to localities in the Kalutara District which could not be reached by any other mode of transport

The second ship carrying relief items from India arrived at the Colombo Port with three medical teams and diving teams and three boats as requested by Sri Lankan Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. 

The World Health Organization has committed funds to the tune of $ 175,000 for initial relief work, Health Minister Rajitha Seneviratne announced at the news conference held by the DMC. More donor funding has been promised in the future, he added.


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