05/22/2018, 17.58
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Torrential rains kill eight, threaten 38,000

by Melani Manel Perera

Gusts of wind reached 70 km/h and could get worse in the coming days. In all, 19 districts and more than 9,000 families have been affected with 1,625 finding shelter in temporary camps.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Torrential rains and strong winds are sweeping the coasts of Sri Lanka.

The gusts of wind, which accompany the summer monsoon, have reached about 70 km per hour and may still increase in intensity in the next few hours, until the first week of June.

The heavy rain has already had its first victims. The Met Department reported eight deaths and seven people injured. A red alert has been extended by another two days in several parts of the country.

The authorities have also issued an advisory to fishermen to be careful when venturing into the sea.

In all, 19 districts have been affected with 9,817 families affected across the country for a total of 38,000 people. About 6,090 people (1,625 families) found shelter in 80 temporary camps.

Most schools in the south have been closed due to the weather conditions, whilst navy, army and rescue teams are at work in flooded areas.

According to the Met Department, about 150 mm of rain are expected in Sabaragamuwa and Western provinces and in the districts of Galle and Matara; another 100 mm should fall in the Central, North-Western and Uva provinces and in the district of Hambantota.

The Disaster Management Centre (DMC) has reported that at least 247 boats and 275 other small boats have been deployed to the affected areas.

Water level in four rivers (Kelani, Kalu, Gin and Nilwala) have reached flood level, causing problems, said assistant director and media spokesman K.A.D.P.K. Koddippili.

Warnings have been issued to people to watch out for the typical signs of landslides, such as cracks in the ground, floors and walls of buildings on slopes, as well as slanging trees, electric and telephone poles, fences, and water suddenly sprouting.

The DMC reported that about 30 shelters were set up for 1,212 people. To cope with the emergency, the Ministry for Disaster Management has already allocated 28.7 million rupees [about US$ 180,000) in addition to one million (US$ 6,300) per affected district.

For updates, people are urged to call the toll-free number 117, which is available 24 hours a day.

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