Million affected in Sri Lanka''s floods

Colombo, Jan 13 (PTI) More than a million people havebeen affected by flooding in Sri Lanka and at least 23 havedied over a week of devastation that has severely hit thecentre and east of the country, including areas alreadydestroyed by the civil war.

The devastation caused by the monsoon floods hasalready hit over one million people across the country andweather officials have painted a discouraging picture, sayingthe scene could prevail.

Aid started trickling in from foreign governments andinternational organisations with the UNICEF sending relief forthe displaced persons.

More than 325,000 persons have been left homeless inrecent flooding in Sri Lanka, Disaster Management Centre (DRC)said today.

The DRC said the displaced people have beenaccommodated at 591 temporary relief camps.

India will send a consignment of relief supplies forthe flood-hit people tomorrow, officials at the Indian highcommission said here.

The UNICEF has sent seven truck loads of assistance toflood victims in the eastern province, once the theater of warin Sri Lanka''s decades-old ethnic conflict.

"In recent years these communities have suffered majorblows; many of them have been caught up in years of conflict,in the wake of the 2004 tsunami and now these floods," UNICEFcountry representative, Reza Hossaini, said.

"Many families were only just returning home afteryears of displacement. They were rebuilding their lives,children were returning to their community schools and nowthey all face this latest severe setback," he said.

The eastern province affected by the bloody civil warfor decades has been the worst affected. The eastern districtof Batticaloa, which saw bloody fighting in the country''sethnic conflict in 2009, was badly affected after heavier thanusual seasonal rains.

The government has deployed service personnel withhelicopters and naval boats to assist the flood victims.

Rs 139 million has been allocated so far for relief suppliesand operations.

The government has appealed to the people "to joinhands and help them (the victims) at this hour of need withoutany discrimination or petty considerations."

Army, Navy and Air Force personnel are working aroundthe clock to provide water, food and shelter on a prioritybasis to all flood victims.

Sri Lankan officials estimated the loss of around Rs30 billion in recent flooding in the country.

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