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35 killed, 150 missing in flooding, landslides in Sri Lanka

By Ians

Colombo, May 18: At least 35 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with rescuers recovering 16 more bodies today even as 150 remained missing after three days of torrential rains that triggered floods and landslides in several areas.

16 bodies have been recovered of people whose houses were buried by the mudslides that occurred hit two villages yesterday evening, Military spokesman Brig. Jayanath Jayaweera said.

Sri Lankans wade through a road submerged in flood waters in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, May 17, 2016. The Disaster Management Center said that 114 homes have been destroyed and more than 137,000 people have been evacuated to safe locations as heavy rains continue.

More than 300 soldiers deployed for the rescue mission also saved 150 people trapped in Aranayake village besides recovering 13 bodies from the area, Jayaweera said. Samsara hill in the village of Elangapitiya at Aranayake was hit by the earth-slip as a result of the bad weather experienced in the recent days.

SHA Faizal, a state official, said that 1,041 people from the area have been housed in a camp and that the army, police and the airforce are carrying out a search for bodies. In the other village, Bulathkohupitiya, three bodies were recovered, Jayaweera said.

The affected villages are located in the central mountainous Kegalle District, about 72 kilometres northeast of Colombo. At least 66 homes were buried due to yesterday's earth slip in Kegalla, disaster relief officials said.

Disaster Management Centre spokesman Pradeep Kodippili said the district was prone to landslides and many people from the area had fled their homes after the rains.

"We believe that at least 150 people have disappeared. They have found 16 bodies so far," Elangapitiye Rathanajothi, a Buddhist monk and an eye witness said.

Kodippili said there have been 19 deaths from other areas other. He added that 81,216 families or 3,32,254 people were marooned.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Red Cross said more than 200 families are feared buried by rain-triggered mudslides in three villages - Siripura, Pallebage and Elagipitya - in Kegalle District, which Kodippili dismissed and said the death toll was not expected to rise significantly.

Some 22 districts of the island were hit by the bad weather, heavy rains which were over 200 millimetres in most areas.


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