Floods, landslides kill at least 91 in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan military rescue workers and villagers search for survivors at the site of a mudslide in Bellana village in Kalutara. (AFP)
Updated 26 May 2017

Floods, landslides kill at least 91 in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO: Flooding and landslides killed at least 91 people and left another 110 missing in Sri Lanka as the monsoon set in Friday, dumping record rainfalls in many parts of the island, authorities said.
About 20,000 people were also driven out of their homes in the south and western parts of the country, the Disaster Management Center (DMC) said.
“There are some areas where we are unable to reach, but relief operations are under way,” said Dunesh Gankanda, deputy minister for disaster management.
The DMC said the toll rose to 91 dead and another 110 missing as reports came in from areas which had been inaccessible earlier in the day.
The highest number of fatalities were from Ratnapura, the country’s gem hub, where the Kalu river burst its banks and inundated the main town which is about 100 km east of Colombo.
Nearly 500 homes were either damaged or destroyed due to flooding as well as landslides, said Rear Admiral A. A. P. Liyanage, DMC director of operations, told AFP.
Most of the deaths were due to mountain sides collapsing on homes, he said.
The met department said the worst of the rains may be over, but there could be downstream flooding in the next few days and the authorities issued evacuation orders for thousands of people.
The government arranged temporary shelters in schools and other public buildings for people in low-lying areas to move in, the DMC said.
The military has deployed thousands of troops to reach marooned villagers and the airforce carried out several rescue operations to pluck people from rooftops of flooded homes.
Sri Lanka appealed to the international community, including the UN and neighboring countries, for help as the numbers of dead and missing climbed.
“The Foreign Ministry will continue to monitor the flood situation and seek assistance as required in consultation with the Ministry of Disaster Management,” the government said in a statement.
The latest flooding was the worst since May 2003 when 250 people were killed and 10,000 homes destroyed after a similarly powerful Southwest monsoon, officials said.
In the early hours of the day, a mountainside collapsed on a women’s hostel at a tea plantation at Neluwa in the island’s south, killing at least seven women, police said.
DMC officials said the monsoon had been expected on Thursday night and ended a prolonged drought that had threatened agriculture as well as hydro power generation.
The rains filled the reservoirs used for hydro power, which had hit rock bottom, raising concerns of power shortage in June.
But officials said most reservoirs were now so full they were in danger of spilling over and causing dangers of flooding to people living downstream.


Lithuania confirms first case of coronavirus

Updated 54 min 11 sec ago

Lithuania confirms first case of coronavirus

  • Lithuania reported on Friday its first confirmed case of coronavirus
  • Nigeria on Friday announced the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa

VILNIUS: Lithuania reported on Friday its first confirmed case of coronavirus, the government said, as the disease spreads rapidly worldwide.
Hopes that the virus would be contained to China vanished, with countries beginning to stockpile medical equipment and investors taking flight in expectation of a global recession.

New Zealand's health ministry on Friday also confirmed the country's first case of coronavirus in a person who recently returned from Iran.
Meanwhile, Nigeria on Friday announced the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa.
The case is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria and returned from Milan earlier this week, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said in a statement on Twitter.
“The patient is clinically stable, with no serious symptoms, and is being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos,” Ehanire said.
Italy has become a hotbed of infection in recent days, with the largest outbreak in Europe.
But the low number of cases across Africa, which has close economic ties with China, the epicenter of the deadly outbreak, has puzzled health specialists.

In Greece, two new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to three.
The health ministry said one of the cases concerned a relative of a 38 year old woman in the northern town of Thessaloniki, the first confirmed case reported in Greece. The woman had recently returned from Milan in northern Italy.