By Anushiya Sathisraja
More than 23,000 in hill country, south-west affected by bad weather
Ten districts in the country are at high risk of landslides, cut slopes and rock falls, a senior official of the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) said.
The districts are Kegalle, Ratnapura, Matale, Kandy, Badulla, Nuwara-Eliya, Kalutara, Matara, Galle and Hambantota, said R.M.S Bandara, Director of the Disaster Management Unit of NBRO.
He warned that residents should be vigilant about possible natural disasters that can take place in these areas.
Mr. Bandara said residents should report to the District Secretary’s offices if they notice any abnormalities such as rock slides, unusual seepage of water and bulges on slopes.
An awareness program will be conducted in all districts which are vulnerable to landslides about how to take precautions during landslides and cut slopes.
Disaster Management Centre (DMC) Deputy Director Pradeep Kodippili says more than 15, 000 persons have been affected by the severe weather conditions that prevailed in the Southern Province in the past two weeks.
Approximately 8,176 persons of 2, 411 families in the Galle District had been affected by heavy rains, and floods. 14 houses have been completely damaged while 52 have been partially damaged. Kadawathsathara, Habaraduwa, Bope-Poddala and Imaduwa Divisional Secretariat areas were the worst affected in the District, he said.
Meanwhile close to 2, 100 families (6, 154 people) have been displaced in Matara District due to adverse weather conditions. 59 houses have been completely damaged while 107 were partially damaged.
The displaced are housed in six camps and food and sanitary facilities have been provided to them. Weligama, Akuressa and Devinuwara Divisional Secretariat areas in Matara District have also been affected by heavy rains.
He added that several areas in Beruwala were also reportedly under water. “The public has been warned to be vigilant about the rising water levels in the Gin and Nilwala Gangas in Galle and Matara Districts with the threat of roads and lowlands being inundated due to the heavy rains.
According to the DMC, 136 members from 34 families in Kalpitiya and Puttalam were affected by high winds, while four members of one family in the Galle District were affected by gale force winds.
DMC Director L.B.R Mark said that motorists should remain watchful when using the Southern Expressway due to a mudslide near the 114km post between Galle and Matara. The Galle and Matara stretch of the expressway is now closed from Kokmaduwa.
Matara District Secretary E.A.C Vidanagamachi said that awareness programmes are taking place on how to prevent hazards and injury in the event of a landslide if a person is indoors or outdoors.
The displaced were camped in the schools but now people are returning to their homes. Dry rations were provided by the District and Divisional Secretaries to the affected people.
Nuwara Eliya District Secretary K.H.M Meegasmulla said that a landslide in Wedamulle Watte in Nuwara Eliya caused seven deaths while 19 families in the District were displaced.
She also stated that Upcountry New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development Minister P. Digambaram had promised that houses will be given to the displaced within three months.
These houses costing Rs. 1.2 million will be built on a plot of land obtained from the same estate on the recommendation of the Building Research Institute.
Badulla District Acting Divisional Secretary Malani Lokubothagama said that steps are underway to provide housing facilities to those individuals who have been displaced, owing to the recent landslide.
More than 8,000 persons of 2,112 families were affected by heavy rain and floods and 41 houses were fully damaged, she said.
Navy spokesperson Commander Indika de Silva said the Navy has provided necessary assistance in the areas affected by the prevailing adverse weather conditions.
Naval relief teams were deployed at Yakkalamulla and Imaduwa in the Galle District from September 29 to October 01 and assistance provided to distribute food and other necessities to the people trapped in the areas where public transportation had been interrupted.
The Met. Department says that the possibility of the rain over the island is low yet periodic rains may be experienced in the Western, Southern and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.
Met Department Deputy Director Anusha Warnasuriya said there was the possibility of rain at several places in the Central, Uva, Eastern and North-Central Provinces over the weekend.
She also stated that, the sudden change in the weather, along with heavy showers was caused by a typhoon in the western Pacific Ocean which led to a low pressure system over the country which increased the force of the north-east monsoon winds.
The temperature in many parts of the country including Colombo, Kurunegala and Anuradhapura had dropped to about 24 degrees Centigrade while it had dropped to below 20 degrees Centigrade in Nuwara Eliya and Bandarawela.
Mahesh Johnny, Senior Communications Manager of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) told the Sunday Times said non-food relief items and milk powder have been provided by SLCRS to those affected by landslides and heavy rain.
Moreover all our regional officers have been briefed to give an immediate response if any appeal is made.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni of the Colombo Municipal Council’s Public Health Department warns that rains causing floods may result in an outbreak of food and water and vector borne diseases.
He said an outbreak can occur at any time but they are more prone to occur in unsanitary environments during floods.
Health Ministry Consultant Community Physician Dr. S.D Samarasekera said the filarial mosquito usually gets washed away during heavy rains. However there could be pits where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe too intervened to ensure that those affected by the adverse weather conditions receive assistance promptly.
The Government released four million rupees to enable the setting up of temporary shelters for the flood victims.
Lengthy drought hits over 60,000 in north and east
According to the DMC, Trincomalee, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Ampara, Polonnaruwa and Killinochchi Districts were affected by the long drought in these Districts.
Around 5,000 families were affected in Jaffna District, 3, 636 families in Killinochchi Districts, 6,000 families in Trincomalee District 21, 700 in Batticaloa District and 31, 000 families in Ampara District.
Duty Meteorologist Pabodini Karunapala said there would be rain in the northern and eastern parts of the island till January.
Jaffna District Secretary N. Vethanayahan said the security forces in Jaffna are supplying water to people who are affected by the lengthy drought in the Jaffna peninsula.
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