At least 11 people have died and over 225,000 people have been affected due to inclement weather during the past week. Heavy rains between 100 to 150 mm were reported from the Northern, North Central and Northwestern Provinces and in the Southwestern part of the country. Kilinochchi received the highest rainfall of 375 mm. Floods and landslide reports were rampant as heavy rains lashed the country. According to the latest situation report of Disaster Management Center, 226,115 people have been affected by floods and landslides while 137,606 people have been evacuated to 226 shelters.
Heavy downpours as a result of a tropical depression saw maximum rainfall exceed 150mm in some places as of May 17, 2016, according to the Department of Meteorology. Particularly incongruous; the month of April was deemed the hottest month in modern times by NASA, and so the rain was welcome relief at first but it soon escalated into an emergency situation, claiming several lives in the first week itself and will no doubt continue to rage across the island.
Landslide warnings were issued to eight districts in the country, these being Badulla, Moneragala, Kandy, Ratnapura, Kurunegala, Nuwara Eliya, Kegalle and Matale.The warning asked the public to be alerted to the possibility of landslides, rock falls and cut slope failures.
It started with the landslide in Niyandagala Mountain in Samanalawewa, Balangoda, where a monk went missing from an Aranya Senasana that had been covered in mud.
The Disaster Management Centre reported six missing in a landslide in Kadugannawa and two in Ratnapura. Of these, three have been found in Kadugannawa. Around 40 families were affected in Ratnapura and Kegalle due to these hazardous slips.
Thirteen individuals who went missing in the Aranayaka area have been discovered, but not before finding five bodies. It displaced 450 people and injured 16. Seventeen people reported missing following the landslide in Kalupahanawatta in Bulathkohupitiya, Kegalle.
Many rivers and reservoirs have already exceeded their capacity, including Kelani, Kalu, Mahaweli, Deduru Oya, Yan Oya, Maha Oya and Attanagalu Oya. Deduru Oya, Tabbowa, and Udawalawe had their sluice gates opened to ease the swell of water. The Kotmale Reservoir also had sluice gates opened. This has, in turn, caused disruptions to travellers and possible endangerment to the people living downstream.
Residents living in low-lying areas near Kelani River are being evacuated to temporary shelters as the river swelled up due to incessant rains. Roads have faced closure as well. The Colombo – Avissawella low-level road was temporarily closed off because of the risk of sinking into the Kelani River. The river overflowed, which created problems for those trying to navigate the road. The Kataragama – Moneragala main road collapsed as well. Some trains were also temporarily halted due to the tracks flooding, mainly the Puttlam-Colombo line. Some sections of the Southern Expressway Exit were similarly flooded.
Flooding plagued many places, notably Colombo and the areas surrounding it. The bouts of heavy rain meant that many roads were swamped, hampering people as well as vehicles as they went about their day-to-day activities. Areas such as Thummulla, Torrington and Nelum Pokuna were affected. The water levels of the Diyawanna Oya adjacent to Parliamentary Complex had risen to levels that threatened flooding.
Over 3,700 families have been affected in the Colombo District, with 55 houses damaged in Kalutara. Homes in Nugegoda faced submerging when a canal overflowed, thus subjecting them to much distress. The death of a ten-month- old baby was reported from the Wattala area, as the infant had drowned in water that had filled the room he had been sleeping in.
The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) stated that various parts of the country experienced power failures due to the heavy thundershowers that took place in the last two days. The CEB also stated they were in the process of restoring the power supply to these affected areas.
Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam left it up to the Zonal and Provincial Directors of Education to decide on the matter of closing schools so as not to hinder the lives of the teachers and students. Should the storms continue with ferocity then principals were to rely on the decisions of the directors on this matter, as to whether to continue school activities or not.
In view of the gales and stormy weather, three flights that were due at Katunayake International Airport were diverted to the International Airport in Mattala and to Cochin, India. A Jet Air flight from Mumbai and a flight from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia were diverted to Cochin while a Fly Dubai flight was diverted to the Mattala Airport.
Many trees fell, entangling themselves in power cables and also spreading debris across roads so as to make them inaccessible. According to the Met Department, although the low-pressure area has started to move away, further rainfall and strong winds are expected; especially in areas close to the sea. Heavy falls of more than 100 mm are still likely.