Heavy rains to continue
The Government, through the Road Development Authority (RDA), allocated Rs 5 million for each Province, currently affected by the floods, for the purpose of repairing damaged roads.
The Ministry of Finance has requested the Treasury to immediately make available funds to assist the affected.
Minister of Finance and Mass Media, Mangala Samaraweera yesterday (22) advised Treasury officials to immediately release funds in order to provide relief to the people affected by the recent disaster situation.
RDA Chairman Nihal Sooriyarachchi, speaking at a separate media briefing yesterday, said that the current road blockages, due to landslide,s have been minimized due to the pre-planning process conducted by the RDA and the Landslides Monitoring Unit, with the assistance of the National Building Research Organization (NBRO).
RDA Director General K. Amaraweera pointed out that many roadways are affected, especially in the Southern and Sabaragamuwa Provinces, due to the adverse weather conditions. He also said that about 95 per cent of the road blockages occurred due to landslides which had to be cleared off by the RDA.
In case of emergency, if RDA assistance is needed, the public is advised to contact the following Directors in Charge, or Chief Engineers: Athula Gamage – Southern Province 041-2222150 and 0718055117, K.G.D. Kiriella – Sabaragamuwa Province 045-2222608 and 0714396759, Mangala Marasinghe – North Western Province 037-2223250 and 0718003699, E.M.S. Ekanayake – North Central Province 025-2235201 and 0714225668, R.U. Ranasinghe – Kalutara 0342222500 and 0773408180, M.M.G.K. Muhandiram – Bandarawela 057-2222171 and 0716373450, Ilangiran – Mullaitivu 021-2285724 and 0776180853, K.M. Thilakaratne – Nuwara Eliya 052-2222552 and 0718675031 and D.N.L.K. Gannoruwa – Matale 066-2222009 and 0714559320.
The public could also contact the RDA hotline, active for 24 hours, in case of emergency; 1969 for highways and 1968 for other roadways.
The NBRO did not issue any additional warnings or advisories yesterday.
According to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), eight casualties and 52,000 affected individuals have been reported due to adverse weather conditions during the last four days. Seven people sustained injuries and 19 houses were fully damaged. Furthermore, the most affected areas as of yesterday, according to the DMC, were the Puttalum and Gampaha Districts with 12,760 and 10,954 persons affected, respectively.
Continuous heavy rainfall, exceeding 150 millimetres was predicted by the Department of Meteorology for the next few day despite the ‘quell in the storm’ yesterday. Accordingly, it was noted that heavy rainfall is expected in the Sabaragamuwa, Western, Central, North-Western Provinces and in the Galle and Matara Districts.
Showers or thundershowers will occur at times in the Western, Southern, Sabaragamuwa, Central and North-Western Provinces. Showers or thundershowers are expected to occur elsewhere particularly after 2 p.m.
The Department said that the prevailing rainy condition, along with cloudy skies in the South-Western part of the island, is expected to continue further during the next few days.
Meanwhile, windy and showery conditions are expected in the North-Western, Western and Southern sea areas during the next few days. Showers or thundershowers will occur at times in the sea areas, extending from Trincomalee to Pottuvil via Batticaloa and in the sea areas off the coast extending from Mannar to Hambantota via Colombo and Galle. Heavy showers can be expected at some places in the above sea areas. Showers or thundershowers will occur at several places in the other sea areas.
Winds will be Westerly to South-Westerly in the direction of the sea areas around the island and the wind speed will be 30-40 kilometres per hour (kmph).
The sea area extending from Kankesanturai to Pottuvil via Puttalam, Colombo and Hambantota can be rough at times as the wind speed can increase up to 60 kmph at times.
Temporarily, very strong gusty winds (up to 70-80 kmph) and rough seas can be expected during thundershowers.
Naval and fishing communities are also requested to be vigilant, the Met Department said.
Meanwhile, several roads leading to the Kadawatha, Kaduwela and Welipenna interchanges, of the Southern Expressway, were inundated due to incessant rains experienced in several parts of the island, RDA Media Officer Thilak Gunasiri said.
Speaking to Ceylon Today, he added that several roads in Colombo, including the Nugegoda and Peliyagoda areas, which were flooded, have shown receding water levels by yesterday afternoon.
Three compartments of a train plying from Colombo to Avissawella yesterday evening, derailed in Kottawa. The Railway Control Room said that operations on the Kelani Valley Railway Line were limited to Maharagama.
The Sri Lanka Air Force, engaged in evacuation work, added that troops and aircraft were on standby to assist with potential rescue operations. However, their assistance had not been sought as yet.
Army Media Spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu said 1,000 soldiers are on standby for rescue efforts. He added that several soldiers have already been deployed for rescue operations in the Ratnapura District.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Navy, assisting in the transference of individuals from threatened and affected areas, to safe locations, said the safe movement of 172 individuals to safe locations. Navy Spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Dinesh Bandara said that the deployed officers have assisted 130 individuals in Walawita, 21 in Nikaweratiya, nine in Anamaduwa and three in the Giriulla-Udugama areas. Bandara added that nine pregnant mothers, stranded due to the flood situation, were also assisted to safety, yesterday morning.
Meanwhile, a team of Special Boat Squadron personnel has been deployed to remove debris collected under the Wakwella Bridge, over the Gin Ganga, which posed a flood threat to the area. Further, another bridge located at Aviththava, Mathugama in the Kalutara District was blocked with debris and a relief team from the Navy had been promptly deployed to handle the situation. Besides, a team of Navy Divers undertook to clean the defunct Water Treatment Plant in the Raddolugama area and bring the facility to operational condition. Meanwhile, a group of distressed people, due to the flash floods in the Madampe area, was rescued and transferred to safe places by Naval personnel attached to the 4RU.
The Navy has deployed 39 relief teams with 37 dinghies for relief work in the Southern, Western, Sabaragamuwa and North Western Provinces since 20 May. Bandara highlighted that more troops are on standby to assist if the situation escalates.
The National Dengue Control Programme (NDCP) yesterday said that although the present weather conditions would not give rise to dengue, there were possibilities of an increase once the continuous rains ceased.
Consultant Community Physician (CCP)
Dr. Preshila Samaraweera said that during the past 10 years the number of dengue patients had seen a drastic increase during the South Westerly monsoon season – between the months of May and August. She said that the continuous rains would wash away all dengue breeding sites. However, the mosquito borne disease would have been much different if there had been intermittent rains.
Dr. Samaraweera urged the public to be vigilant and maintain clean environments free of discarded receptacles which could collect rain water.
The CCP said that there were 19,087 dengue patients recorded from January to the beginning of the third week of May with 20 deaths being recorded within the same period.
Meanwhile, the Epidemiology Unit website said that the highest number of cases had been recorded in Colombo (2,979), Batticaloa (2,633), Gampaha (1,596), Jaffna (1,297), Kalutara (1,224), Kandy (1,222), Kurunegala (1,130), Kalmunai (1,202) and Puttalam (1,051). It said that 1,650 cases had been recorded from the beginning of this month till 21 Monday.
With the floods in May last year, the number of dengue cases topped 104,545 between May and August end, while in 2016 a total of 22,741 were recorded within the same period.
Meanwhile, citing Irrigation Department data, the Disaster Management Centre yesterday (22) said that the water levels have risen in the Kelani River near the Hanwella and Nagalagam Veediya areas. Furthermore, the Ratnapura – Ella area of the Kalu Ganga, the Panadurugama area of the Nilwala River, the Baddegama area of the Maha Oya, the Idunmulla area of the Attanagalle Oya were also reported as flooded. The National Building Research Organization has also sent an amber alert for the areas in Galle, Kalutara, Nuwara Eliya, Ratnapura and Kegalle, and advised people in the area to be vigilant