Weather woes: 25 dead, 1 million affected in 21 districts

Monday, 29 December 2014 00:19 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: At least 24 people have been killed and another eight are missing after heavy rains lashed 21 of Sri Lanka’s 25 districts. A further 15 people have so far been reported injured as severe weather hit homes and local roads, with over a million people understood to have been significantly affected. The highest number of deaths was reported in the central hill district of Badulla, where there were a number of major landslides. Hundreds of irrigation reservoirs filled to capacity had to have their sluice gates opened, raising water levels in major rivers and causing some to burst their banks. Thousands of villages and city areas were inundated, along with hundreds of thousands of acres of agriculture land. “It is a big disaster. Our homes were destroyed. It’s as if a tsunami hit us,” Flood victim Rani Somawathi said. The Meteorology Department on Saturday (27 December) forecast heavy rains and strong winds especially in the North, East, North Central and Hambantota districts as another strong depression condition was approaching the country. “The biggest floods were in 1957. There was a smaller one in ‘67. There was another one in 2012. This is the biggest floods we have seen since then,” said local resident Mudianse Wijepala. The Government deployed the armed forces for rescue missions and to provide relief to tens of thousands of people who have taken refuge in temporary shelters in schools and religious places. The floods some experts say is the worst for over 50 years is also disrupting the campaign for the presidential election, due on January 8, amidst speculation that it may have to be postponed if the bad weather continues. Incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa is seeking a third term in office.