More havoc from fresh floods

Monday, 7 February 2011 02:41 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Incessant torrential rain kills over 10, displaces 1 million; rice crop at risk

Heavy rain triggered flooding in select parts of the country has killed over 10 people, displaced 1 million and threatening up to 90 percent of the staple rice crop, heightening concern about supply shocks and inflation, officials said on Sunday.Heavy monsoon rain caused flooding across the Eastern, Northern and North Central Provinces for the second time in less than a month.

More than 250,000 people have been forced into temporary shelters by this latest inundation.

“A large amount is destroyed. More than 90 percent of the crop will be destroyed this time,”Agriculture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene told Reuters, referring to the rice crop.“There is no other option than replanting.”

Sri Lanka cultivates 570,000 hectares (1.4 million acres) of paddy twice a year, and another 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) has been added in the former war zone in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, the government says.

January’s floods killed more than 40 people and forced as many as 325,000 from their homes and the Agriculture Ministry had said that at least 21 percent of the rice crop was destroyed.

Sri Lanka has maintained low inflation since May 2009, when a three-decade war with Tamil Tiger separatists ended, mainly because of higher food supplies coming from the Northern and Eastern Provinces where fighting took place.

Flooding and displacements are common in Sri Lanka, where a southern monsoon batters the island between May and September, and a northeastern monsoon runs from December to February.

An AFP report said monsoon rains have spread to more villages and towns, leaving at least 14 people dead and more than one million with flooded homes, according to officials.

The number of people in state-run shelters rose to 236,000 by Saturday evening, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) in Colombo said, adding that 1,053,000 people had had their homes inundated.

Most of the flood victims had moved in with friends and relatives living on higher ground, officials said.

Police figures showed that at least 14 people had been killed in flood-related incidents in the past week.

The DMC said that roads and fields were submerged across the east, centre and north of the island — areas which had already been badly hit by an earlier wave of monsoon rains last month.

Then, 43 people were killed and the number of people driven from their homes also passed one million.

The latest flooding came after the United Nations issued an appeal for 51 million dollars in emergency aid to help people affected by last month’s floods.