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Floods, landslides kill 170 people in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka (May 29, 2017): More than 100,000 Sri Lankans have been displaced due to torrential rains and mudslides, whereas landslides and floods in Sri Lanka have killed at least 170 people and the country faces the risk of more mudslides as torrential rains continue.

More than 100 people are still missing after the worst rains in the Indian Ocean island since 2003. The state-run National Building Research Organization warned people in seven out of the country’s 25 districts on Sunday to evacuate from unstable slopes if rains continued for the next 24 hours.

The meteorology department of Meteorology said there could be heavy rainfalls of above 100 millimetres in central Sri Lanka within the next 36 hours.

The death toll has risen to 170, while 111 people are still reported missing and 95 injured, according to the state-run Disaster Management Center. Nearly 500,000 people have been affected by the disaster, the worst since the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and the downpours have displaced more than 100,000.

People in the town of Agalawatte said they were losing hope of water levels falling soon. Rescue efforts are hampered by lack of drinking water, lack of electricity and continued rain. Reuters witnessed some people stranded on the upper floors of their homes and some houses were flooded up to roof level. Civilians and relief officials, sailing in boats, distributed food, water and other essentials.

Sri Lanka has already appealed for international assistance from the United Nations and neighbouring countries. Some areas in the southern coastal district of Galle, popular with foreign tourists, have not received relief materials because of a lack of access.

Sri Lankan military and rescue teams have used boats and helicopters, but they said access to some areas was very difficult. Military spokesman Roshan Senevirathne said more than 2,000 military personnel had been deployed to help the police and civilian agencies.

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