Massive landslides triggered by incessant rains have buried atlas 200 people in Sri Lanka, a report by the Red Cross said on Wednesday.
Some 200 families have been reported missing after the landslides hit three hill villages of central Sri Lanka late on Tuesday. They are feared to be buried under mounds of mud and debris.
But rescue workers, assisted by some 300 soldiers are looking for survivors in the disaster hit villages of Kegalle district, some 70 kms not of capital Colombo. Military helicopters and boats have been pressed in to aid rescue work in affected areas.
Rescue workers have pulled out at least 16 bodies from the mud, a Sri Lankan military spokesperson said.
The exact number of casualties could not not been ascertained so far. Early warnings of possible landslides were issued, but authorities say, they are not sure how many heeded to the advance notice, the Red Cross said in a report on its website.
A Red Cross official who attended a disaster management meeting at the Aranayaka landslide site early on Wednesday said it was feared that the death toll could be much higher than the official figures.
At least a dozen people have been killed in rain related incidents elsewhere in the island nation. Nineteen of Sri Lanka’s 25 districts have been affected by the torrential rains.
The flash floods and subsequent landslides have also displaced of over 130,000 people. More than 350 people were rescued in the landslide-affected areas early on Wednesday, officials said. Most of the displaced have sought shelter in nearby schools and Buddhist temples.
The Sri Lankan meteorological department has warned of more rains. This has led to fears of fresh landslides.
The met department had issued a warning over the weekend that the atmospheric disturbance in the south east of the island is likely to intensify and develop into a depression and move closer to Sri Lanka, affecting the weather in the country’s southern and eastern areas and of the the surrounding areas.