Rains, floods and Landslides wreak havoc in Sri Lanka

Report
from Sri Lanka Red Cross Society
Published on 28 Dec 2012

Situation

The number of deaths following floods and landslides increased to 42 while nine persons are still reported missing. Twenty two persons injured are hospitalized, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said yesterday. The rainfall statistics published by the meteorological department in last 24 hours: 130 ml in Mannar, 96 ml in Jaffna, Anuradhapura 50 ml and Batticaloa 63 ml of rainfall causing more damage and difficulties to ongoing relief efforts in northern districts. According to the latest assessment, the flooding and landslide had fully damaged 4,172 houses; another 10,457 houses are reported partially damaged more than 93,435 families have been affected since heavy rain started on 17th December 2012.

In the meantime, the number of the displaced people sheltered in evacuation centers has been slowly decreasing as some families return to their homes. According to the latest reports 6,989 families (24,502 people) are now in 148 evacuation centers, mostly schools and community centers, after being forced from their homes mainly 7-8 days ago.

With many reservoirs reaching spill level due to heavy rainfall, authorities have warned people in the Polonnaruwa, Batticoloa, Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Mannar Districts to be extremely vigilant as the flood situation is expected to worsen within the next few hours. "Some 48 sluice gates of 71 reservoirs have been opened as the tanks have reached 95% capacity," Director of Water Resource Management, Department of Irrigation, Janaki Meegasweva said to “The Ceylon Today”. Due to torrential rains in the Anuradhapura District, 26 small reservoirs, including several central reservoirs, have been completely destroyed. Some 86 tanks are at the risk of being destroyed.

Director, Landslide Research and Risk Management Division, NBRO, R.M.S. Bandara said, according to reports there seems a decrease in the rainfall in the Matale District, but warned areas where landslides have already occurred. "We are always monitoring landslides and always trying to rescue people, when such incidents occur," he said.

According to the information released by the Department of Meteorology, the Northern, North Central, Eastern, and Central provinces are still experiencing heavy rains. Certain areas are likely to receive heavy showers (above 75 millimeters) and some areas are likely to experience rains and thundershowers. Strong winds are predicted progressing from the East across the island intermittently.

RC Action

Whilst Mannar, Vavuniya, Killinochchi, Mullative, Trincomalee and Anuradhapura branches are struggling to support relief efforts with continuous rainfall Kurunegala, Polonnaruwa, Puttalam, Hambabtota and Matale are supporting to communities for early recovery interventions as people are slowly returning to their homes now.

At the request of the branches, SLRCS NHQ is mobilizing additional relief stocks to support immediate flood relief action to Mannar, Killinochchi, Mullative and Vavuniya affected by heavy rains last two days. Initial phase of relief activities SLRCS has managed to respond to the existing relief needs mobilizing its contingency stocks and procuring additional items with the support of in-country based Movement partners. But with additional request from government officials for more relief interventions to northern districts, SLRCS requested more support from its partners; ICRC has provided emergency house hold items (Bed sheets, sarongs, mugs, plates, towels, t-shirts, soaps and some cloths) and Hong Kong Red Cross through IFRC supported for emergency relief items procurement. So far SLRCS dispatched relief stocks to 12 districts and supported more than 6,000 families directly and 30,000 families indirectly.

According to the SLRCS branches, cleaning of wells contaminated by flood, hospitals and community centers remain the priority. Needs identified by SLRCS: at least 2,100 wells in 7 districts.

Districts branches of Puttalam, Kurunegala, Hambantota and Polonnaruwa have mobilized volunteers and communities and have managed to complete cleaning of some hospital areas and wells. SLRCS continues to monitor the situation and will share the updates as the situation evolves.

Gaps

According to the detailed assessment by SLRCS the following items are still required: sleeping mats, bed sheets, infant milk powder and sanitary items. There are still 24,000 people in camps due to landslides mainly and SLRCS needs partner support to provide early recovery support for families who have lost their homes.

The heavy rain has increased over the last 24 hours and this has created more difficulties for relief services once again. In northern districts regular coordination meetings are conducted to strengthen the response efforts under the leadership of the government district secretaries. Government has once again requested additional support from district SLRCS branches for the affected people sheltered in the evacuation camps and also people who are returning home.

In addition to this well cleaning and cleaning of common places is a priority as communicable diseases are foreseen and SLRCS seeks cash support to start cleaning of 2,100 wells in 7 districts (300 wells per each district) costing around LKR 4,200,000.00 (approx. 33,000 CHF)