Over 200 feared buried in massive landslides in Sri Lanka

While around 40 people have died, 200 are feared buried in the landslides near capital Colombo, triggered by three days of torrential rains

Colombo: Over 200 people were yesterday feared buried in massive landslides in Sri Lanka, following three days of torrential rains that have triggered landslips and floods, killing nearly 40 people, with rescuers trying to find survivors under mounds of mud.

A Sri Lankan woman wades through floodwaters inside her home in Kelaniya yesterday. Pic/AFP
A Sri Lankan woman wades through floodwaters inside her home in Kelaniya yesterday. Pic/AFP

As many as 17 bodies were recovered with rescuers digging through the mud with their hands, sticks and shovels to search for survivors. The deceased were villagers whose houses were buried by the mudslides that hit two villages in Kegalle, a mountainous area northeast of Colombo, yesterday evening, military spokesman Brig Jayanath Jayaweera said.

The fresh recovery of bodies takes the overall death toll to 36 from flooding and landslides in the past three days that have marooned 81,216 families or 3,32,254 people.

Some 220 people are feared buried by rain-triggered mudslides in three villages — Siripura, Pallebage and Elagipitya — in Kegalle, according to the Sri Lanka Red Cross. “We believe that at least 150 people have disappeared. They have found 16 bodies so far,” Elangapitiye Rathanajothi, a Buddhist monk and an eyewitness said.

Samsara hill in the village of Elagipitya at Aranayake was hit by the earth-slip, as a result of the bad weather experienced in the recent days.

In the other village, Bulathkohupitiya, 4 bodies were recovered. Many people had fled their homes after rains.

300 The number of soldiers deployed for the rescue mission

66 The number of homes  buried in the the landslide in Kegalle

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