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Weather havoc - Sri Lanka floods leave thousands homeless

Several areas of Colombo went under water causing major traffic jams throughout yesterday due to heavy rains experienced during the last two days.

The Meteorology Department warned further strong winds during next few days along with 150mm of rain in many parts of the country.

According to the latest statistics of the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), three people have died and 4,186 people from 3,616 families in eleven districts have been affected by the prevailing inclement weather. Accordingly, Colombo, Kalutara, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Galle, Matara, Anuradhapura, Puttalam and Kurunegala were among the badly affected districts.

Over 1,853 people from 605 families have been removed to safe locations.

The Met Department’s National Early Warning and Meteorological Centre (NEWMC) Meteorologist in Charge A.R. Warnasooriya told The Island that the low pressure area located over the country as at yesterday afternoon was now moving away towards India.

She said the prevailing rainy condition over the country would be gradually reduced to some extent, but strong windy conditions would continue for some more days. Heavy rains were predicted in the Northern, North Central, North Western provinces and in the South western party of the country.

Due to the active cloudiness associated with the above system, the possibility of sudden roughness of the sea accompanied by sudden increase of wind speed up to 70-80 kmph could be expected over the surrounding sea areas of the country, Warnasooriya said.

The DMC has issued warnings for the people living on the river banks and low lying areas close to rivers Kelani, Kalu, Nilwala, Mahaweli, and Yan Oya, Maha Oya and Attanagalu Oya to be vigilant as the water levels were rising gradually. The river water levels in the areas of Hanwella, Ratnapura, Panadugama, Peradeniya, Nawalapitiya, Horowpatana, Badalgama, Giriulla and Dunamale were also rising yesterday, according to the DMC.

Due to the prevalent weather conditions, three flights that were scheduled to land at the Katunayake International Airport on Sunday night and yesterday morning were diverted to Mattala and Cochin, India.

According to the Katunayake International Airport Field Task Manager, a flight from Dubai was diverted to the Mattala International Airport. Two flights that were to arrive from Mumbai and Kuala Lampur were diverted to the Cochin Airport in South India.

The met office statistics stated that the highest rainfall of 260.2 mm during the 24 hours ending at 5.30 am yesterday had been recorded at Katunayake. Colombo had recorded a rainfall of 232.4 mm, Ratmalana 170. 8 mm, Ratnapura 131.1 mm, Mannar 173. 9 mm and Trincomalee 182. 4 mm.

Meanwhile, the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) has extended the landslide warning issued to eight districts with the prevalent weather conditions. The warnings have been issued to Kandy, Ratnapura, Kurunegala, Kegalle, Moneragala, Badulla and Nuwara Eliya Districts. Several areas in and around Colombo remained inundated hampering vehicular movement owing to heavy downpours as at yesterday afternoon.

The DMC said the Kelani River had reached spill level and houses in the ‘Dewani’ Nawagampura and Kettharagama Aluth Para areas were likely to be flooded. Vehicular movement in the Maligawatte area was also hampered. The Sedawatte canal reached spill level.

The DMC also warned the public in Bingiriya, Mahawa, Kobeigane, Nikaweratiya, Pallama, Arachchikattuwa, Chilaw and Wariyapola to be vigilant of rising waters in Deduru Oya.

Several houses in Colombo remained inundated till yesterday evening due to the overflowing of several canals which carried waste water. Vehicular movement on the Ella-Wellawaya Road was hampered due to rock-slides. Transportation between Baddegama and Galle was hampered as the Galle-Baddegama main road was flooded. Several low lying areas were inundated due to the rise of the water level of the Gin Ganga.

Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Bell 412 Air Sea Rescue Team saved two fishermen named Jude Ranjith and Newton after their boat capsized off Pitipana, Negombo yesterday. The air crew and four member rescue team were on board in this rescue mission conducted by the No. 4 Helicopter Squadron based at SLAF Base Ratmalana. Base Commander SLAF Base Katunayake Air Commodore Sagara Kotakadeniya coordinated the rescue operation.

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has stated that several areas of the country had experienced power failures during heavy thundershowers and storms in last two days and the CEB was in the process of restoring the power supply to the affected areas.

The Education Ministry said Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam had authorised all zonal and provincial education directors to decide on the closure of schools in case of adverse weather which would affect the safety of students and teachers and also in case of emergency, all principals have been instructed to inform the respective zonal or provincial education director of the situation to decide whether to continue school activities or not.
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