Emergency aid has started reaching the Sri Lanka flood victims as rescue teams continue to reach out to marooned people, taking advantage of slightly improved weather. Floods and mudslides have claimed some 146 lives.
Floodwaters were receding Sunday in some areas after a lull in rain gave rescue teams a chance to deliver much-needed supplies to flood victims.
Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, who is heading the search and rescue operation, said the soldiers had cleared road access to most of the affected areas in southern and western Sri Lanka.
Unusually heavy rains triggered more than a dozen landslides that buried homes on mountain slopes, as river banks burst to unleash flood waters.
Over half a million people were displaced by the monsoon, in addition to thousands of those who were evacuated to safer locations, the official Disaster Management Center (DMC) said..
The military teams were using helicopters and boats to rescue marooned people and deliver food and medicine to them.
The Sri Lankan government sought international help to deal with the situation. An Indian naval ship loaded with emergency supplies reached the island nation Saturday, with another Indian shipment is due to arrive on Monday.
The United Nations said it would send water containers, water purification tablets and tarpaulin sheets, whereas the World Health Organization's health officials would work to cure and prevent diseases.
Worst flooding in years
More rains are forecast for Sunday and Monday.
The death toll has climbed to 146 with at least 112 people missing. On Sunday, Sri Lankan rescuers pulled out more bodies which had become trapped under huge mudslides. Sudantha Ranasinghe told local media that he did not expect to find any more survivors.
Friday's flooding was the worst the country has experienced since 2003, when 250 people were killed and 10,000 homes were destroyed after a comparable monsoon. Last May, another massive landslide killed more than 100 people in the central part of the country.
Mudslides have become increasingly common in the country following rainstorms, as land has become deforested to grow crops like tea and rubber.
A 2015 World Resources Institute (WRI) report said that river flooding could affect 21 million people and expose $96 billion (85 billion euros) in GDP worldwide each year. By 2030, those numbers could grow to 54 million people and $521 billion in GDP affected every year, according to WRI. One of the hardest-hit areas is predicted to be South Asia, a region where more than 9.5 million people are already being affected every year by floods.
shs/jlw (AFP, AP)