India extends a helping hand for Sri Lanka cyclone crisis

India is extending a helping hand to its southern neighbour Sri Lanka after a cyclonic storm and torrential rain hit the country and left it reeling with massive flooding of its cities and devastating mudslides in the countryside.

Hit by cyclonic storm, Roanu, Sri Lanka witnessed a deluge of rain for 3 days in the wettest spell in the country in the last 6 years . The massive rains affected 18 districts causing severe floods in Colombo and other cities, mud landslides in villages and killing 37 people. In the Arayanke of the Kegalle district three villages were buried under landslides and authorities recovered 14 bodies.

Responding to the disaster situation that Sri Lanka finds itself in Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stated that the country stands resolutely to help the Government and people of Sri Lanka in its hour of crisis and has assured it of all help possible.

Two naval ships INS Sunayna and INS Sutlej are being expediently dispatched to Colombo carrying relief supplies. INS Sutlej has already left from the Southern Naval Command in Kochi and INS Sunayna will soon follow. An aircraft with emergency supplies has also been sent to aid the country in its hour of need.

The heavy rains that affected Sri Lanka hit the Killinochchi in the Northern Province the most, with 37 cm of rain recorded on Monday morning; Mahailluppallamma in the North Central Province recorded 27 cm on Tuesday and Gampaha in the Western Province recorded 13.5 cm on Wednesday.

Pradeep Kodippili, a spokesperson of the Disaster Management Centre, told The Hindu on Wednesday that about 3.52 lakh people in the country have been affected while 2.23 lakh people have been relocated to safety.

As many as 211 houses were fully damaged and 2,647 houses partially hit. Dozens of people are missing in the massive mudslide that buried the 3 villages completely. Rescuers and soldiers are trying to find the missing people but the continuous rain, slippery mud and slush are hampering rescue efforts.

President Maithripala Sirisena visited the site of the devastation and asked officials to carry out rescue and relief operations on an urgent basis.

Soldiers and police have managed to rescue 180 people but are struggling to find as many as 220 people still missing two days after a massive mudslide destroyed the three villages of Siripura, Pallebage and Elagipitiya.

Asked whether rescuers expected to find survivors, army Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe pointed to an area in Elangapitiya village where 66 houses once stood.

“We don’t have a trace of any house here. All gone with that landslide,” he said. “So I have my doubts.”

Villagers who were still in shock spoke of a deluge of muddy water, broken tree branches and debris come crashing down Tuesday around their homes in the three villages in Kegalle district, about 45 miles north of Colombo. Many of them were still to find their family members and loved ones feared buried in the mud.

Nine temporary camps have been set up in schools and a Buddhist temple. Hundreds of displaced people are being treated for injuries and given basic food, water and shelter. The country will need all the help it can in the aftermath of this disaster to restore the basic structures of the villages, tackle outbreaks of diseases and to relocate the hundreds displaced by the deadly storm.

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