Widespread flooding and landslides leave 101 people dead and 100 missing, Sri Lanka

Widespread flooding and landslides leave 101 people dead and 100 missing, Sri Lanka

An intense storm that was affecting Sri Lanka since May 15, 2016, wreaked havoc across the country's districts, causing severe flooding and deadly landslides. According to the Disaster Management Center (DMC), the current death toll is 101 and another 100 people from the Kegalle district are still missing. The country's parliament summoned a meeting on May 25, one week before the due date, to discuss the appropriate recovery measures.

Widespread flooding and landslides, caused by the Tropical Cyclone "Roanu" destroyed numerous homes and inundated entire villages across the 22 Sri Lanka's districts. As of May 22, 237 240 people were displaced and sought shelter in 376 safe locations such as local camps, schools or temples, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). At least 503 homes were destroyed and 3 793 suffered some degree of damage.

Aranayake in the Kegalle district suffered extensive damage as two major landslides hit the region on May 17 and 21. The search and rescue attempts are still underway, as the soldiers are looking for victims potentially trapped under tons of mud. So far, DMC reported 66 recovered bodies. Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, was hit the hardest.

Video credit: Sri Lanka Air Force/Gossip Lanka Hot news

Video credit: Sri Lanka News

Torrential downpours, the strongest reported over the last 25 years, have caused several large water reservoirs to overflow. The areas located downstream from the Kelani River and the Kalu River in Colombo reported ongoing flooding on May 24. If the rainfall continues, the upstream regions will face the risk of further flooding.

The districts of Colombo and Gampaha have counted the highest number of displaced people, as the floodwaters in the region are still high. As of May 24, landslide warnings were in place for nine regions of Sri Lanka. According to OCHA, many residents, especially from rural areas have lost everything while the growing health concerns related to abundant amounts of standing water and the destruction of the water and sanitation infrastructure, affects the urban regions. 

The flooding waters will likely take a couple of more days to recede. The Tropical Cyclone "Roanu" has moved away from Sri Lanka on May 22, and the rains have eased since. However, the Department of Meteorology has forecasted more rainfall over the coming days, as the seasonal southwest monsoon kicks in. Unfortunately, this could induce further flooding and landslides across already devastated areas.

Video credit: AFP

Roanu caused an estimated $2 billion damage. The Government of Sri Lanka sent an appeal for foreign aid on May 25. Ravi Karunanayake, the Finance Minister, said he believes the foreign aid would be able to cover about 75% of the total costs of reconstruction. He stressed the "rampant construction" in the low-lying areas of Colombo was the main reason the floods affected one-third of its population.

Featured image: Sri Lanka floods, aerial view, May 20, 2016. Image credit: Sri Lanka News

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