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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2993

Baby rolls off dining table and drowns inside house; landslides block main roads and National Hospital filled with rain water

By Vandana Jayasinghe

Colombo, 30 October, ( Over 306, 500 people have been affected by the relentless rains that lasted for nearly a week in ten districts of south-western Sri Lanka. Nearly 75,000 people rendered homeless and 11 people, including a child, died in the floods. Residents of the south western districts consider this to be the worst floods in recent years. Main roads in Colombo and other districts were inundated making traffic impassable.

A six-month-old baby girl of a Muslim family in Wattala died when she rolled off the dining table and fell into flood waters swirling inside the house. This family of four including a baby girl and her brother had spent the night on the dining table – the only place above the water level covering the house. Her mother had rushed to the co-operative shop to pick up some cooked food distributed free for the flood victims, leaving the two children with the father. The infant, who was sleeping on the table, rolled off the table top and fell into the water and was drowned.

Colombo National Hospital too was filled with rainwater yesterday morning. The Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) was under water. When contacted a high official of the hospital, he said that the MICU was not badly affected and four patients under treatment were still at the unit. But he claimed that the repeated complaints to the responsible authorities on the stagnation of rainwater in the hospital were overlooked.

President Mahinda Rajapakse had instructed the Minister of Disaster Management Mahinda Samarasinghe to provide relief services to the affected people. Minister Samarasinghe yesterday visited several places that were hit by the floods and instructed the officers to take action to expedite relief assistance. The Government had directed all divisional secretaries to provide Rs. 15,000 to each family, which lost family members. The Government has released over Rs. 11 million to provide relief assistance for the victims who were displaced or died due to floods that wreaked havoc in ten districts

Minister Samarasinghe, who visited the Beruwela area to meet the victims today, said that the main cause for the floods was the poor maintenance of roads.

Highest number of displaced people is reported from the Gampaha District. It is reported that a large number of displaced persons are also in Colombo, Kalutara, Puttalam, Chilaw and Kurunegala districts.

In the hill country areas landslides have blocked the Welimada and Kandy roads and the Kandy-Nuwara Eliya highway. Landslides were also reported from Bandaragama, Wewessa, Kuruwita, Meneripitiya and Mawaththenna.

According to Director National Disaster Management Centre, H. Hettiarachchi, the floodwaters are not receding as the lakes are filled with garbage thrown by slum dwellers sitting on the banks. "Still some parts of Colombo are under water. The slum dwellers in unauthorised buildings of surrounding the lakes have dumped their garbage into lakes blocking the smooth flow of rainwater," he pointed out.

Stagnant water has affected the people in Wattala, Katana, J-Ela and Kelaniya. Chairman of the Land Reclamation Somaweera Chandrasiri said a program would be launched with each divisional secretariat to clean all the lakes and drainage systems soon. He also said that the vulnerable areas, in which the lakes were blocked and needed to be clean, would be identified for remedial action.

- Asian Tribune -

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