by Maheesha Mudugamuwa-June 1, 2017, 10:13 pm
The total death toll from last week’s disasters is thought to be around 300 with the government deciding to consider 95 persons who have gone missing also as dead, State Minister of Public Enterprise Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene says.
Minister Abeywardene was addressing the SLFP weekly media briefing at party headquarters in Colombo.
Rescue workers had combed through mud and rubble left by devastating floods and landslides, looking for survivors till yesterday, but in vain, the minister said.
Minister Abeywardena from Matara, one of the worst affected districts, said about his own experience, “The whole area was flooded within 20 minutes and we were helpless. I can’t even imagine how the others faced the situation. We were all stranded for hours.
“I experienced the floods in 1969 and 2003 but the worst was this year’s.”The government placed the number of affected people at 629,695 from to 163,740 families with 1,540 houses destroyed and 7,714 others damaged. More than 72,105 people from 18, 707 families are still at 355 safe locations.
Minister Abeywardena said the government would give Rs. 100,000 each to families whose members had perished in disasters.
So far the government had spent Rs. 126 million to look after the affected people, Minister Abeywardene said.
Valuation officers had been sent to flood affected areas to assess the damage caused by the recent disaster, Abeywardena said.
The government has taken measures to prepare a cabinet paper to provide land to the people living in disaster prone areas, the Minister said, adding that the President had highlighted a disaster management plan for flood prone areas in 1968.
President Maithripala Sirisena had given the instructions to revive the former disaster management plan, Minister Abeywardene added.
The illegal constructions in Ratnapura District and around the Gin Ganga, Nilwala and Kalu Ganga areas would be removed, he said.
The Meteorological Department yesterday predicted showery conditions in the south-western part of the country today. The showers are expected in the Western, Sabaragamuwa, Southern, Central and North-Western provinces while heavy rain falls of about 75 mm are expected in Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, Ratnapura and Kegalle Districts.
Showers or thunder showers are like to occur in the Eastern, Uva, North Central Provinces and in the Vavuniya Districts, particularly in the afternoon. Strong winds of about 50kmph are also expected during showers.
The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) extended the landslide warnings for Ratnapura, Kegalle, Galle, Matara, Nuwara Eliya, Kalutara and Hambantota.
The Southern Expressway (E01), which was closed for motorists due to the floods, was opened last afternoon after the flood water had receded, Police said. The Kadawatha to Kokmaduwa stretch was earlier cleared for use by motorist. However, the stretch between Kokmaduwa and Godagama had been closed until yesterday.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident yesterday, three people including a 14-year-old child drowned when their raft capsised at Aththudawa in Matara. The victims were identified as members of the same family––father, mother and son.