More than 6,000 people have been evacuated following heavy rain and flooding across parts of Sri Lanka, say officials.
“The number will likely increase,” Pradeep Kodipilli, assistant director of the Sri Lankan Disaster Management Center (DMC), told IRIN on 18 December in Colombo, noting flood warnings remain in effect across 10 of the country’s 25 districts - Galle, Matale, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Polonnaruwa, Badulla, Baticaloa, Hambantota, Moneragala and Kurunegala.
“In Kurunegala the water level continues to increase and the Sri Lankan Navy has been deployed to conduct rescue operations.”
According to DMC, 6,312 persons (1,791 families) are now in 29 evacuation centres, mostly schools and community centres, after being forced from their homes, mainly in the last 24 hours.
To date, some 20,000 people have been affected across six of the country’s nine provinces, DMC reported, with close to 600 homes damaged or destroyed.
Of the nine deaths reported, eight occurred in Matale, central Sri Lanka, the worst affected district.
Access to affected communities, however, has resumed after a number of roads were made impassable due to landslides. “We have reached all the affected areas, but rescue operations by the Sri Lankan armed forces are continuing,” said Kodipilli.
Rain across the island is expected to continue over the next 24 hours which could result in further landslides over the next couple of days, Sri Lanka’s Meteorological Department reported.
“People should be careful about possible floods, landslides, earth slips and rock falls,” said Minister of Disaster Management Mahinda Amaraweera.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Colombo, the situation at the moment appears largely under control.