Sri Lanka: Floods and Landslides Flash Update No. 1, 19 May 2016

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 19 May 2016

Beginning on 15 and 16 May, a low pressure system triggered strong winds and very heavy rain across much of Sri Lanka. As much as 300 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in some locations. This triggered flooding and landslides, including a landslide near Aranayaka division in Kegalle District, which devastated three villages.

The Sri Lanka Disaster Management Centre (DMC) reported today that more than 418,000 people have been affected by extreme weather in 22 districts, with 41 confirmed deaths. The districts of Colombo and Gampaha remain the worst affected.

Currently, nearly 303,000 people have been displaced and are sheltering in 610 safety centers. Of the 41 reported deaths, the DMC has confirmed 14 deaths were due to the Aranayaka landslide.

As of 19 May, the situation in eastern and central Sri Lanka had stabilized as the low pressure system moved north towards the Indian coast. As waters subside in areas affected earlier in the week, the focus is shifting to new flooding risks in western Sri Lanka and Colombo where river levels continue to rise due to run-off from higher elevations. The Department of Irrigation has warned of rising flood water levels in the Kelani River, posing a possible risk to downstream communities. The Department of Meteorology indicated that inter-monsoonal rains were expected to set in from today, which could compound the situation or delay run-off in some areas.

The Government is coordinating the response with in-country humanitarian partners and has allocated 61 million Sri Lanka rupees (approximately US$ 1.1 million) to support affected communities. The Sri Lankan Armed Forces are conducting search and rescue efforts, evacuations and relief distributions, including reconnaissance missions and food drops by the Sri Lankan Air Force.

In-country humanitarian partners are supporting line ministries and joint UN/INGO assessments are planned. However, the Government of Sri Lanka has not declared a state of emergency. No request for external international assistance has been issued.

OCHA will continue to monitor the situation in consultation with actors on the ground. A second Flash Update will be issued should the evolving situation require.

For more information, contact: Helen Mould, Public Information Officer, OCHA Regional Office for Asia-Pacific, mould@un.org, Mobile: +66 63 270 9122

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