Saturday, November 1, 2014

Rains slow Sri Lankan landslide search; nearly 150 feared dead

Reuters: Heavy rains hampered search operations on Friday at the site of a landslide in Sri Lanka where more than 100 people were buried under tons of mud and rubble two days ago. Fears of further landslips in the rain-sodden hills around the tea-plantation village of Haldummulla also slowed efforts to recover the dead, after a disaster that has brought offers of assistance from neighbour India and the United States.

Officials had originally put the death toll from Wednesday's landslide at more than 300 but reduced it after it emerged that many schoolchildren and plantation workers had been at a safe distance when the avalanche engulfed their homes. Latest data fron Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Centre showed that 183 people had survived out of a total of 330 who lived in the area in south-central Sri Lanka.

As soldiers and police worked to clear mounds of earth, survivors were housed in two temporary camps set up nearby. Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told parliament the cabinet had decided to help them build new homes in a safe location.

A local resident told Reuters around 150 clay and cement houses had been buried in the landslide, which was 3 km (2 miles) long and was triggered by days of heavy monsoon rains. Ravichandran Gajini, 14, said her parents had left their house before the landslide but hurried back in to retrieve documents....

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