COLOMBO: Sri Lanka today called off search operations to locate over 100 persons missing following the recent landslides and Buddhist monks performed religious rites to pay the last repect to those who died in the disaster.
Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, who oversaw the search- and-rescue operation, said the operation has been called off after relatives of the missing persons gave up hope.
"We called off the search operations following requests made by people and relatives as they felt there is no point in further searching for the missing people," Ranasinghe said.
Massive landslides struck Sri Lanka on May 17 following heaviest rains in more than 25 years, causing damage worth USD 2 billion. In the worst-hit central district of Kegalle more than 100 people had been listed as missing.
Over 60 bodies was recovered at the landslide site buried in deep mud.
The Disaster Management Centre said the missing persons in Kegalle were presumed dead. Last week, it had said the search would continue but there was no hope of finding anyone alive.
The search had been halted since Monday.
Today, after the search was called off, Buddhist religious rites were performed on site to pay the last respect to those who died. It was attended by relatives of the missing persons.
President Maithripala Sirisena, who attended a meeting in the Kegalla administrative secretariat on Tuesday, has ordered several relief measures, including the construction of homes for the victims by the government.
According to the DMC, nearly 3,40,000 people have been displaced across the country after days of rains, and floods.
Sri Lanka has received emergency aid from other countries, including India which dispatched two naval ships and an aircraft loaded with supplies.