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Sri Lanka landslides: Death toll hits 202, hospitals to be evacuated

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The death toll in Sri Lanka’s devastating floods and landslides reached 202 while 96 people were still missing, the Disaster Management Centre said on Wednesday.

Sixty-three people were injured and seeking treatment in state hospitals while over 600,000 people have been affected.

Severe rains and strong winds which lashed out across Sri Lanka since Friday have caused major floods and landslides in many areas of the island with the worst affected being the southern district.

As water levels are receding, tri forces along with rescue teams have now launched a massive cleanup operation in order to restore normalcy in the affected areas.

“No less than 83,200 people are seeking shelter in safe locations and many are unable to return to their homes due to fully damaged or partially damaged houses,’’ it said.

According to the World Health Organisation, no less than 16 hospitals in flood hit Sri Lanka have been evacuated fully or partially as facilities have been directly affected by the floods or exposed to landslides.

“With the increasing number of displaced people and lack of space in safe locations, temporary shelter and ensuring access to health services is needed.

“Disease surveillance and vector control is also a priority with the risk of communicable diseases,’’ the statement said.

It added that over the past few months, health partners have recorded a significant increase in dengue cases (53,200 cases with over 125 deaths) compared to annual data from 2016.

“The Ministry of Health has deployed medical teams mainly in Kalutara, Ratnapura and Galle districts in southern Sri Lanka,’’ the UN update noted.

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Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday said the reconstruction of 640 fully destroyed houses and 5,329 partially destroyed houses will start soon.

Sirisena who also visited the worst affected district of Ratnapura on Sunday ordered authorities to provide maximum and immediate relief to the victims and ordered the treasury to release funds to compensate those affected.

International aid has also poured into the country with China, the U.S., Britain, Pakistan, India, Australia, Norway and the EU donating funds and sending relief supplies.

The Sri Lankan government has shown gratitude to the international community for its assistance at this hour of grief.

Meanwhile as Cyclone Mora has now moved away from the island country, the Meteorology Department said on Monday that the possibility of heavy rain and strong winds will reduce by coming week.

However, it said fairly strong winds about 50 km/ph could be expected over some parts of the districts.

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