20 May 2016

Search resumes in rain for missing in Sri Lankan landslide

Sri Lankan onlookers walk towards safety during a minor land slide following heavy rains in Elangipitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Soldiers and police used sticks and bare hands Wednesday to dig through enormous piles of mud covering houses in three villages hit by massive landslides in central Sri Lanka, with hundreds of families reported missing.
Hundreds of soldiers resumed the slow and difficult search Friday for hundreds of people missing after landslides swallowed three hillside villages in central Sri Lanka, a dangerous effort as continuing rain kept the ground unstable and the risk of more mudslides a constant threat.
By Friday morning, rescuers had recovered 30 bodies, out of hundreds believed buried on Tuesday when torrents of thick, red mud buried the villages of Siripura, Pallebage and Elangapitya. The Sri Lankan Red Cross has said at least 220 families were unaccounted for.

"It's a very difficult task, but troops will carry out their work in the hope of finding more" in the remote, disaster site in Kegalle district, about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, said millitary spokesman Brig. Jayanath Jayaweera.
Rescuers held out little hope of finding survivors. Pointing to an expanse of mud covering the 66 houses that once stood in Elangapitiya, Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe said, "All gone with that landslide."
On the chance of someone being found alive, he said, "I have my doubts."
More than 1,550 displaced villagers sheltered in crowded schools and a Buddhist temple near the hill, waiting for news about the fate of missing loved ones. White flags decorated the doorways — a symbol of mourning.
A Sri Lankan landslide survivor caries her dog as she walks on the mud after a landslide in Elangipitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Soldiers and police used sticks and bare hands Wednesday to dig through enormous piles of mud covering houses in three villages hit by massive landslides in central Sri Lanka, with hundreds of families reported missing.
"The destruction is so bad," tea farmer A. Dharmasena said as he huddled in the Viyaneliya Buddhist Temple with hundreds of other evacuees. "You can't bring the village back to what it was before."
Rains triggered new, thunderous landslides on Thursday, sending frightened villagers running from shelters to higher ground.
Most of the bodies recovered were in Elangapitiya, the village furthest down the hill, as conditions prevented search efforts higher up.
Like much of Sri Lanka, the area around the villages had been cleared for agriculture and tea plantations, leaving the countryside exposed and raising the threat of landslides during seasonal monsoon rains.
Sri Lankan onlookers walk towards safety during a minor land slide following heavy rains in Elangipitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Soldiers and police used sticks and bare hands Wednesday to dig through enormous piles of mud covering houses in three villages hit by massive landslides in central Sri Lanka, with hundreds of families reported missing.
The downpours that started Sunday continued to lash all of Sri Lanka, causing severe flooding in cities including Colombo and unleashing smaller mudslides elsewhere in the country.
Since Monday, 58 people have died from lightning strikes, floods, falling trees and landslides nationwide, including the 30 confirmed deaths in the Kegalle district, according to the Disaster Management Center.
Tens of thousands have been evacuated from homes across the island to some 594 shelters.
The government ordered all schools to close Friday, and more rain was predicted. Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said there was an urgent need for water purification tablets, water pumps and drinking water.
Many parts of Colombo and its suburbs were inundated, with floodwaters reaching rooftops in some areas.
Sri Lankan army soldiers look for survivors at scene after a massive landslide in Kegalle district, about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday pounded the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
"Everything is gone," said Mohomed Sabri, who was able to grab his children's birth certificates and his passport before his home in the Kolonnawa suburb of Colombo disappeared under 3 meters (9 feet) of water.
"This ... is unbelievable," he said. "All my savings, my valuables, have gone with the water." 
(AP 
Sri Lankan land slide survivors mourn the death of one of their family member at a public school in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
Sri Lankan land slide survivors mourn the death of one of their family member at a public school in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.         
Sri Lankan villagers and army soldiers gather at the site of a landslide in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
Sri Lankan villagers and army soldiers gather at the site of a landslide in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.               
A Sri Lankan army soldier looks for survivors during a search operation in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
A Sri Lankan army soldier looks for survivors during a search operation in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.             
A coffin carrying remains of a landslide victim is kept in a public school in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
A coffin carrying remains of a landslide victim is kept in a public school in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.           
Sri Lankans look at the land slide area in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (42 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
Sri Lankans look at the land slide area in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (42 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.                     
Relatives of Sri Lankan land slide victims and onlookers gather at a destroyed house to inquire about family members following a land slide at a public school in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (42 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
Relatives of Sri Lankan land slide victims and onlookers gather at a destroyed house to inquire about family members following a land slide at a public school in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (42 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.                               
A man whose relatives went missing after Tuesday's landslide, speaks on his mobile phone in front of a destroyed house in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have been covered by mountains of mud forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
A man whose relatives went missing after Tuesday's landslide, speaks on his mobile phone in front of a destroyed house in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have been covered by mountains of mud forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.                                        
Sri Lankan army soldiers carry out a search operation in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
Sri Lankan army soldiers carry out a search operation in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.                   
Sri Lankan land slide survivors mourn the death of one of their family member at a public school in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
Sri Lankan land slide survivors mourn the death of one of their family member at a public school in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.                         
A Sri Lankan army soldier looks for survivors during a search operation in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.
A Sri Lankan army soldier looks for survivors during a search operation in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, some 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Heavy rains Thursday continued to pound the central Sri Lankan region where at least three villages have already been swallowed by mountains of mud, forcing army soldiers and police to suspend rescue work.

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