250 missing in Sri Lanka mudslide

Published: Wednesday 29th October 2014 by The News Editor

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A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains has buried scores of workers’ houses at a tea estate in central Sri Lanka, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, officials said.

The mudslide struck at around 7.30am local time and wiped out 120 workers’ homes at the Meeriabedda tea estate in Badulla district, 135 miles (218 kilometres) east of the capital, Colombo, said an official from the Disaster Management Centre.

By early afternoon, rescue workers had pulled out 10 bodies that had been buried by the mudslide. More than 250 other people were missing, the official added.

The military mobilised troops to help in the rescue operations.

Most of Sri Lanka has been seen heavy rain over the past few weeks, and the Disaster Management Centre had issued warnings for mudslides and falling rocks.

The current monsoon season in Sri Lanka runs from October through December.

The country’s famous Ceylon tea is produced mainly in the central hills of the island nation.

About 500 military personnel and civilians searched for survivors with the help of heavy earthmoving equipment, according to a local journalist at the scene.

The search was later called off for the night because of rain and muddy conditions, military spokesman Brigadier Jayanath Jayawerera said.

State broadcaster Rupavahini showed huge mounds of earth covering the houses and muddy water still gushing from the hilltops, suggesting more slides were possible.

P Arumugam, who works as a driver on the plantation, said he rushed there when he heard about the mudslide.

“Everything that I saw yesterday I could not see today – buildings, the temple and shops had all disappeared. I could only see mud everywhere,” he said.

Marimuttu Navaneethan, a 28-year-old shopkeeper, said he heard a big noise and saw mud rolling towards his home.

He and his family ran from the house, which was soon mostly covered by the mudslide. He said 65 other nearby houses were completely covered.

“A midwife was living in one house with six family members, and now all are missing except her husband. Their house was pushed down 200 metres and stopped near our home and their mango tree is now on our roof,” he said.

Published: Wednesday 29th October 2014 by The News Editor

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