Sunday, May 22, 2016

Foreign Aid Reaches Flooded Sri Lankan Capital, 71 Dead

Foreign aid began arriving in Sri Lanka Saturday, bringing help to half a million people forced out of their homes by heavy rains and landslides that have killed at least 71 in a week of extreme weather wreaking havoc in South Asia.

As the heaviest rains in a quarter of a century battered Sri Lanka, Cyclone Roanu barreled into the Bangladesh coastline leaving six people dead and forcing the evacuation of 500,000 as it unleashed winds as strong as 88 kilometers (54 miles) per hour and heavy downpours.

Torrential rains have deluged Sri Lanka since last weekend, triggering huge landslides that have buried victims in up to 50 feet (15 meters) of mud and left 127 people missing.

As aid began to arrive Saturday on a military plane from India and a commercial flight from Japan, Sri Lankan authorities said their priority was now preventing diseases such as diarrhoea, with many areas still under water.

"We have sent a large number of doctors and nursing staff to ensure there is no outbreak of waterborne diseases," Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told AFP.

In Colombo, residents clung to ropes as they battled to cross torrents of water pulsing through the streets of the flooded capital, with some forced to take shelter in rickshaws.

The Indian government has provided inflatable boats, outboard motors, diving equipment, medical supplies, electricity generators and sleeping bags, officials said.

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