Saturday, 21 May 2016

Disastrous floods in Sri Lanka

'Half a million flee homes' as Sri Lanka grapples with deadly floods, landslides

Severe flooding in Sri Lanka has forced half a million people to flee their homes across the island nation, officials say, as the death toll from days of torrential rain and landslides rose to more than 60.

The toll is likely to rise sharply as authorities battling muddy conditions begin to give up hope of reaching 132 people believed to be trapped under the landslides.

"I don't think there will be any survivors," Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, the officer in charge of the rescue operation, told Reuters.

"There are places where the mud level is up to 9 metres. We will keep going until we can recover the maximum."

The heaviest rains in a quarter of a century have pounded Sri Lanka since last weekend, ahead of the arrival of the south-west monsoon.

The worst-hit areas were in Colombo's north-eastern suburbs along the Kelani river, which began bursting its banks on Thursday evening.

Three people have been killed in flood-related incidents in Colombo but the national toll now stands at 64 dead and 29 injured.

The district of Kegalle, about 100 kilometres north-east of the capital, has been worst-hit, with the toll from two separate landslides rising to 34.

Sri Lanka seeks 'help for victims'

President Maithripala Sirisena urged people to provide shelter and donate cash or food as offers of assistance came in from overseas.

"We have already got some assistance from our friends in the international community," he said in a televised address.

"Now I want to ask private individuals, companies and non-governmental organisations to help in anyway you can to help the victims."

The national Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said 21 of Sri Lanka's 25 districts had been affected by flooding.

Around 300,000 people had been moved to shelters while a further 200,000 were staying with friends or family.

"Our information is that about half a million people have been driven out of their homes," Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told reporters.

The DMC said tens of thousands of people in the capital, Colombo, were evacuated in an operation led by the military, involving boats and helicopters.

Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said the Government had sought foreign aid in the form of motors, boats and water purifying tablet.

India said it was sending two naval ships and an aircraft loaded with emergency supplies, including medicine, tents and mobile toilets.

Sri Lankan military personnel work in an area hit by a landslide.

While we can help we should.

I would like to put a special request out for a country that is special to me - Sri Lanka

Sarvodaya is a very good Sri Lankan-based organisation that is doing excellent work

Sarvodaya Sri Lanka Flood and Landslide Relief


What Can We Do?

The torrential rains after months of drought has resulted in severe floods in May of 2016 in almost 19 administrative districts in Sri Lanka, hampering the lives of hundreds of thousands. The worst scenario had been the landslides in the mountain regions where still many lives are unaccounted for.  

Sarvodaya USA's experience with the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka and the 2015 Nepal earthquake has taught us that working with grassroots organizations can make a critical difference.  The best use of your donation is through people familiar with local needs and resources.  

That's why Sarvodaya USA is accepting donations for our sister organization in Sri Lanka, founded by Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne of the Sarvodaya Shramadana movement of Sri Lanka. Sarvodaya staff and societies around the country have dedicated their energy to address challenges and disasters over 50 years of history in Sri Lanka.

Immediately Mobilizing Relief from 20 District Centers

Sarvodaya, in partnership with the Voice of Asia Media Network (Siyatha TV and Siyatha FM) has taken immediate steps to provide relief to the affected people. Twenty Sarvodaya District Centers are designated for collection of relief items including water bottles, milk powder, dry rations, and sanitary items, and the first arrivals are expected by early morning of Thursday the 19th May.

The efforts to dispatch the first truck load of potable water to Pahathgama in Hanwella failed this evening due to inaccessibility of the site via road. The transitional site has to be reached with 1 kilo meter boat ride after the last point on ground.

Sarvodaya, along with the Voice of Asia Media Network, appeal the Sri Lankan and International friends to join with them at this difficult times of floods 2016.

Providing relief --food, water, medical treatment and shelter -- is extremely challenging. Effective long-term reconstruction and support will require a competent, thoughtful approach.


Please donate now to help community-led relief and recovery efforts. Every dollar helps Sri Lankans rebuild Sri Lankan. Your support goes directly towards families and communities affected by this tragedy.

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