11/08/2014, 00.00
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Mudslide in Sri Lanka, the State "knew, but did not warn the people"

by Melani Manel Perera
Rev. Marimuttu Sathivel, an Anglican priest and member of the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) claims authorities were warned of possible disaster in which hundreds of people died, buried alive in their homes. But no one ordered to evacuate the area.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - A "tragedy waiting to happen", for which the State is responsible as well as the owners of the tea plantations and the trade unions. This is according to Rev. Marimuttu Sathivel, Anglican and human rights activist in comments to AsiaNews about the mudslide in late October that swept an entire village in Meeriyabedda. Hundreds of people, all employees of the nearby plantations, were killed. According to the pastor, it was "the worst natural disaster to take place in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami."

"The problem - said Fr. Sativel, who is also a member of the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) - is that people were not warned of impending floods, despite the fact that the local government knew they were going to happen".

According to the state authority in fact, days before the disaster district officials had received warning that the area was in danger. But no competent body bothered to report it to the inhabitants. The same happened with the warning launched by the National Building Resources Organization (NBRO). "They all knew - added the activist - the area is at high risk, but no one gave the order to evacuate the area."

"Now that these people have lost everything - he concluded - who will take responsibility for what happened? Caring for the community was the duty of the overseers and plantation owners, trade unions, government, politicians who made promises during the election campaign but which they have failed to keep".



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