COLOMBO: A mudslide struck the Badulla district in Uva province of South Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing 16 persons and leaving about 100 missing, the media reported quoting officials. The landslide, triggered by monsoon rain, hit a tea-plantation in Colombo, burying homes in 30 feet of mud, officials said.
The Minister for Disaster Management Mahinda Amaraweera said that 16 bodies were recovered by evening and over 100 were still trapped in the debris. The earlier figures of 300 to 400 missing were scaled down as many surfaced or came back to the village.
About 120 “line rooms”, housing families of estate workers of Indian origin, were totally buried, said the Disaster Management Centre (DMC).
“There were more than 150 families living in that village,” a DMC official told TV channel Ada Derana.
“There is no chance they could have survived,” Amaraweera said, as other officials said 16 people were confirmed dead.
A witness said there was a noise like thunder as a part of a mountainside collapsed into a row of estate “line houses”.
Media reports said that though rescue missions are underway with the help of villagers, officials ruled out the probability of finding many alive given the scale of the disaster.
The damaged roads prevented earth movers and other equipment from getting through, hampering the rescue operations.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered troops to deploy heavy equipment to speed up the rescue efforts, his office said. Air Force spokesperson Wing Commander Gihan Seneviratne said that a Bell 212 rescue helicopter has been deployed. A team representing the Landslide Research and Risk Management Division has headed to the scene.
(With inputs from agencies)