Sri Lanka mudslide deaths passes 150 mark as more bodies found

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Sri Lankan villagers cross a landslide site as military rescue workers and villagers search for survivors in Athweltota village in Kalutara on Sunday. (AFP / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI)
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Sri Lankan villagers watch as military rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a mudslide in Bellana village in Kalutara. (AFP)
Updated 28 May 2017

Sri Lanka mudslide deaths passes 150 mark as more bodies found

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan rescuers on Sunday pulled out more bodies that were buried by enormous mudslides as the death toll in the disaster climbed to 151, with 111 others missing.
Although the weather has cleared, more rains are forecast for Monday, threatening to bring further misery to over 100,000 people displaced in western and southern regions of the island nation that were lashed by two days of torrential rains.
Taking advantage of a lull in rain, soldiers cleared road access to most of the affected areas while others were reachable by boat, said Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe, who is heading the search and rescue mission. People waded in knee-deep floodwaters to get to army trucks transporting relief supplies and taking away those waiting to be evacuated.
Ranasinghe said he didn’t expect to find any more survivors.
Health minister Dr. Rajitha Senarathna said 102,218 displaced people were being sheltered in 339 relief centers. Special medical teams have been sent to the affected areas, while medicine has been sent by air to hospitals for which access has been cut off, he said.
Access roads are still blocked in some areas due to flooding, and fuel shortages have been reported, Senarathna said.
The UN said it was assisting in relief efforts in response to a government appeal. It also promised to donate water purification tablets, tents and other supplies for the displaced. India sent a shipload of goods, while the United States and Pakistan also promised to send relief supplies.
Sri Lanka’s Department of Meteorology warned that heavy downpours were expected in some of the affected areas.
Mudslides have become common during the monsoon season in Sri Lanka, a tropical Indian Ocean island nation, as land has been heavily deforested to grow export crops such as tea and rubber. Last May, a massive landslide killed more than 100 people in central Sri Lanka.


Global civil unrest and violence in quarter of countries in 2019, expected to rise in 2020: Report

Updated 17 January 2020

Global civil unrest and violence in quarter of countries in 2019, expected to rise in 2020: Report

  • Identified Sudan as most troubled and “extreme risk” country in the world
  • According to the report, 2019’s biggest flashpoint locations were Hong Kong and Chile

LONDON: Nearly a quarter of the world’s nations witnessed a rise in unrest and violence in 2019 with the figure expected to rise in 2020, according to a study released earlier this week.

Verisk Maplecroft, a socio-economic and political analysis company, said in its index of global civil unrest that 47 of the world’s 195 countries were affected and that the number could hit 75 in the year ahead.

The UK-based consultancy firm identified Sudan as the most troubled and “extreme risk” country in the world, which had previously been held by Yemen.

According to the report, 2019’s biggest flashpoint locations were Hong Kong and Chile and neither is expected to be “at peace” for at least two years its researchers claim.

“The reasons for the surge in violent unrest are complex and diverse. In Hong Kong, protests erupted in June 2019 over a proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, However, the root cause of discontent has been the rollback of civil and political rights since 1997,” the firm said.

“In Chile, protests have been driven by income inequality and high living costs but were triggered by a seemingly trivial 30-peso (USD0.04) increase in the price of metro tickets,” it added.

Other countries now considered hotbeds unrest include Lebanon, Nigeria and Bolivia. Asia and Africa are disproportionately represented with countries such as Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe also coming under the “extreme risk” label.

Since authoritarian leader Omar Al-Bashir was overthrown in April, Sudan was gripped by protests, violence and killings as armed forces battled democracy supporters for control of the new government.

The index predicts that a further 28 countries examined will see a “deterioration in stability,” suggesting that nearly 40% of all countries will witness disruption and unrest at some point in 2020.

Ukraine, Guinea Bissau and Tajikistan are all expected to see the sharpest rises in unrest, but the report highlights growing concern in the world’s biggest and most powerful countries as well.


Countries identified include the hugely influential nations of Russia, China, Turkey, Brazil and Thailand.

Maplecroft says there will be increased pressure on global firms to exercise corporate responsibility, especially those in countries “rich in natural resources where mining and energy projects often need high levels of protection.”

“However, companies are at substantial danger of complicity if they employ state or private security forces that perpetrate violations,” the report added.