The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Monday, 2 June 2008

Sri Lanka flash floods kill 9, displace thousands

Floods triggered by torrential rain have killed at least nine and forced thousands of people from their homes in Sri Lanka, with some taking shelter in schools and temples, officials said on Monday.

Flooding, often fueled by monsoon rains, and ensuing mass displacement are common in Sri Lanka.

(AFP/Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

"Nine people have been killed and a total of 83,433 people have been affected due to the heavy rains," said Keerthi Ekanayake, national coordinator at the National Disaster Management Centre.

The Meteorology Department forecast continued rainfall in coming days with the start of the southwestern monsoon.

"Of those (affected) about 520 families are in 14 IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps," Ekanayake added.

He said most of the displaced were living with friends and relatives.

Heavy torrential rains struck the Indian Ocean nation's Western districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kaluthara, the southern districts of Galle and Mathara, and the Gem mining district of Rathnapura.

(AFP/Lakruwan Wanniarachchi)

In March more than 7,000 people were displaced from their homes in eastern Sri Lanka, included families living in basic camps who had already been forced to move there by renewed war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

In January, more than 30,000 people were displaced in the east by monsoon flooding, while in December 175,000 people took refuge in welfare centres and temples in the eastern and central parts of the country following flash floods.

The infrastructure of Sri Lanka, with a population of 20 million, has long been neglected because of a protracted war between the state and Tamil Tigers, which has killed more than 70,000 people since 1983.

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

Source: Reuters