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SHAKE AND BLOW
Sri Lanka deploys more troops as flood toll climbs to 180
By Agnes BUN
Kalutara, Sri Lanka (AFP) May 29, 2017


Sri Lanka appeals for help as floods cripple water supply
Colombo (AFP) May 30, 2017 - Sri Lanka appealed for volunteers Tuesday to help with a massive recovery operation in the wake of devastating flooding that left 183 dead and tens of thousands without clean drinking water.

State television broadcast calls for public assistance to clean drinking wells contaminated by the monsoon floods, the worst in 14 years after record rainfall in the island's southwest.

The Disaster Management Centre said nearly 600,000 people had been forced from their homes, with thousands suffering structural damage from flood inundation and landslides.

Water supply minister Rauf Hakeem said 40 percent of those affected did not have access to piped drinking water, and there was an urgent need to clean contaminated wells in flood-affected areas.

"Our workers have volunteered to join a major clean up," the minister told reporters in Colombo, adding water distribution stations had also been flooded, disrupting the piped supply.

The military has deployed more troops to the thousands already involved in distributing food and other essentials to flood victims in the districts of Kalutara, Ratnapura, Galle and Matara.

The disaster centre said weather in Sri Lanka was expected to improve Tuesday, with powerful Cyclone Mora moving away from the island towards Bangladesh.

There were scattered showers in many parts of Sri Lanka in the past 24 hours but flood waters were rapidly receding, officials said.

The official death toll was at 183, with another 110 people were listed as missing as of Tuesday morning.

In May 2003, 250 people were killed and 10,000 homes destroyed after a similarly powerful monsoon.

Sri Lanka has sought international assistance, with India sending two naval ships laden with supplies over the weekend. A third ship was expected later Tuesday, officials said.

The United Nations said it would donate water containers, water purification tablets and tarpaulins while the World Health Organization will support medical teams in affected areas.

Japan had promised portable generators and a team of experts to help with relief work.

Six die, thousands forced out in Brazil floods
Sao Paulo (AFP) May 29, 2017 - At least six people were killed and tens of thousands more fled their homes in flooding in the north-east of Brazil over the weekend, regional authorities said.

Rain-swollen rivers, mud slides and falling trees in Pernambuco state drove out at least 30,000 residents, with another 3,000 families forced out in neighboring Alagoas, the governments of the two states said.

Both states declared emergencies after the flooding, which left two dead in Pernambuco and four dead in Alagoas.

President Michel Temer, who is fighting for his political future amid a corruption crisis, briefly abandoned the capital Brasilia to fly over the disaster zone on Sunday.

Temer also used the visit in Pernambuco to authorize a 600 million reais ($184 million) loan from the BNDES state development bank for the completion of four dams that had been announced back in 2010, state-owned Agencia Brasil reported.

Thousands of Sri Lankan troops battled Monday to get relief supplies to over half a million people displaced by the island's worst flooding for 14 years, which has killed at least 180 people.

The military said a lull in torrential monsoon rains allowed it to deploy aircraft, boats and ground troops to evacuate people from flooded areas, deliver essentials and recover bodies.

Just over 550,000 people have had to abandon their homes due to the heavy rains, which have brought flooding and landslides to large parts of the island's southwest.

Sri Lanka is regularly hit by flooding at the start of the annual monsoon. But carpenter J. H. Siripala, who lives in one of the areas worst hit, said he had never seen it this bad.

"I have lived in this area for 27 years and we have gone through floods, but never experienced this much water," the 62-year told AFP in Kalutara district on the southwest coast as a navy boat carried him to safety.

"I thought it was my end," he said as he recalled how the water level suddenly rose on Sunday, covering his head, before he was pulled to safety.

Dhanushka Fernando said his house was under eight feet (2.5 metres) of water on Sunday. "We had floods in 2003 but not this much water," the 28-year-old told AFP.

In May 2003, 250 people were killed and 10,000 homes destroyed after a similarly powerful monsoon.

The official death toll rose to 180 on Monday after soldiers dug out the bodies of a woman and a child from under tonnes of mud following a landslide in Ratnapura, the island's gem capital.

The Disaster Management Centre said another 110 people were missing.

Just over 5,500 houses have suffered structural damage or been completely destroyed, according to official figures.

A Mi-17 transport helicopter crash landed Monday while trying to deliver food and other essentials to a marooned village in the southern area of Baddegama. But air force spokesman Gihan Seneviratne said there were no casualties.

- International aid -

Military spokesman Roshan Seneviratne said a let-up in the rains had allowed troops to access cut-off villages.

Sri Lanka has deployed 1,800 soldiers and 1,100 naval personnel to evacuate people and ferry food and other essentials to affected areas.

The paramilitary Civil Defence Force said it was deploying about 2,000 personnel while the police have sent their elite commandos to help.

The government said floodwaters were beginning to recede on Monday but some low-lying areas remained heavily inundated.

All schools in flood-hit areas, including the capital Colombo, will be closed for a week, it said.

As the rains eased in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and parts of India issued warnings over Cyclone Mora, which is expected to make landfall on Tuesday.

Bangladeshi authorities ordered all fishing crews to return to shore and advised people living in the southeastern area of Cox's Bazar to move to higher ground.

Sri Lanka has sought international assistance, with India sending two naval ships laden with supplies over the weekend. A third ship was expected this week, officials said.

The United Nations said it would donate water containers, water purification tablets and tarpaulins while the World Health Organization will support medical teams in affected areas.

Japan had promised portable generators and a team of experts to help with relief work.

SHAKE AND BLOW
Sri Lanka deploys thousands of troops as flood toll climbs to 169
Kalutara, Sri Lanka (AFP) May 29, 2017
Thousands of Sri Lankan troops battled Monday to get relief supplies to nearly half a million people displaced by the island's worst flooding in well over a decade, which has killed 169 people. The military said a lull in torrential monsoon rains had allowed it to deploy aircraft, boats and ground troops to evacuate people from flooded areas and deliver food and other essentials. Almost ... read more

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