Death toll climbs as Sri Lanka recovers from floods | News | DW | 31.05.2017
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Death toll climbs as Sri Lanka recovers from floods

At least 200 people have died in mudslides and floods in Sri Lanka, the government reports. Buried highways and submerged roads are hampering efforts to get food, water and medicines to survivors.

On Wednesday, Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Centre reported that at least 202 people had died after last week's mudslides and floods. Nearly 100 remain missing. The heavy rains and their aftermath have displaced more than 77,000 people and destroyed more than 1,500 homes since last Friday.

"The military was able to facilitate access to three landslide areas only yesterday," military spokesperson Roshan Seneviratne told the Thomson Reuters Foundation late Tuesday. "Hundreds of army personnel were deployed to remove the soil mounts from the landslides."

For now, Sri Lanka's army, navy and air force plan to continue relief and rescue efforts, supported by divers and navy personnel who have arrived from India. The United Nations, Australia, Japan and Pakistan also donated supplies, including water purification tablets and tents. The United States and China have pledged relief.

The UN office in Sri Lanka reports that authorities have fully or partially evacuated 16 hospitals directly affected by floods or landslides. Growing displacement and a lack of space in temporary shelters have left many people at risk of disease, the United Nations reports. Sri Lanka has seen a significant increase in mosquito-borne dengue fever this year, with more than 125 deaths.

Mudslides have become common during Sri Lanka's summer monsoon season as corporations clear forests across the tropical Indian Ocean island nation for export crops such as tea and rubber. A massive landslide a year ago killed more than 100 people in central Sri Lanka.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AP)

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