At least 10 people, including four children, have died after a mountain of trash collapsed in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. Another 20 people were injured in the disaster and around 50 houses destroyed.
As Sri Lanka celebrated the new year on Friday, a 91-meter (300-foot) garbage dump in the Kolonnawa suburb of Colombo collapsed, killing at least 10 people and destroying dozens of homes.
Colombo National hospital spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa confirmed on Saturday that two boys and two girls were among the victims. They were aged between 11 and 15.
Search for survivors underway
Hundreds of troops kept up a search for survivors overnight into Saturday, while two heavy earth-moving machines were deployed to clear a path to the worst-affected area.
The Sri Lankan Air Force was also called in and used a helicopter to fight a blaze that broke out after the area collapsed, a local newspaper, the "Daily Mirror," reported.
Many already evacuated
According to police, many residents had already evacuated their homes after heavy rains had caused garbage slides and damaged the foundations of many homes.
"We think about 40 homes have been destroyed," a disaster management official told reporters. "The casualties would have been much higher if most people had not left their homes earlier in the day."
Sri Lanka's parliament was warned recently that the 23 million tons of waste at Kolonnawa were a serious health hazard to local residents.
Around 800 tons of solid waste are added to the site every day.
ksb/jm (AFP, dpa)