Sri Lanka - Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 18 May 2003
Ref. OCHA/GVA - 2003/0073
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Sri Lanka - Floods
18 May 2003

This report is based on information received from the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), as well as media reports. The Government of Sri Lanka has requested international assistance.

I. SITUATION

1. Heavy monsoon rain has affected the South and South West of Sri Lanka, leading to serious flooding and landslides in over 50 years. The worst affected District is Ratnapura, where a landslide in Batugoda, Alapatha claimed 81 lives, but also Galle, Kalutara, Matara, and Hambantota Districts are seriously affected. In Galle District around 50 people have reportedly died in floods and landslides. The Department of Meteorology in Sri Lanka forecasts further occasional showers or thunderstorms during the next 24-48 hours.

2. According to information provided by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, as many as 171,000 families are affected by the floods in five districts and 123 people are confirmed dead.

II. NATIONAL RESPONSE

3. The Sri Lankan Security Forces have begun providing assistance. Specifically the Air Force and the Navy are conducting rescue operations. The Air Force has deployed seven helicopters and the Navy has deployed several small vessels and trucks for rescue and relief. The Minister of Commerce has volunteered to arrange for 100 hired trucks to be available for the military relief effort.

4. The President has reportedly established a four-member Presidential Secretariat Desk on the flood situation. She has also called on the service commanders to deploy soldiers in support of the on-going relief effort.

III. INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

5. This morning the UNCT convened to share preliminary information and to get an overview of the availability of relief items to meet the immediate needs of the affected population. Also, an inter-agency team went in a military helicopter, together with Government counterparts to aerially assess the damage.

6. The UNCT has set up three inter-agency teams, which will go to the five affected districts to make a preliminary assessment, together with the Ministry of Social Welfare.

7. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has allocated CHF 50,000 for the purchase of relief items.

8. OCHA, in consultation with the UN Resident Coordinator, has decided to deploy a three-member UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team, to Sri Lanka to assist the UN Resident Coordinator, the UN-DMT and the local authorities in assessing the flood situation and coordinating assistance. Depending on the findings of the UNDAC Team, a flash appeal may be launched.

9. OCHA has provided an emergency grant of US$ 50,000 from funds received from the Government of Norway, for the purchase of emergency relief materials and hiring of boats.

10. OCHA is in close contact with the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Colombo, and will revert with further information, as appropriate.

11. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int

MAP - Sri Lanka: Floods - Location Map

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: ochagva@un.org

In case of emergency only:Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:
Ms. M. Spaak/Mr. Klavs Quiding
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 17 28/17 69

Press contact:
(GVA) - Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
(N.Y.) - Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-212-963 87 40

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.