Two killed, 300,000 displaced as rains continue in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, AP

Two people have drowned and 300,000 have been forced out of their homes since heavy rains and floods swept through Sri Lanka’s northeast during the weekend, local officials said Monday.

The worst hit region was Batticaloa, where one person drowned and at least 280,000 people have sought refuge in schools, churches, and temples since the heavy rain hit on Saturday, said R. Monagurusamy, the district’s top government official.

He said more rain was coming.

In Ampara, one person was killed and 30,000 were displaced, said the chief government official, L. Siriwardene. At least 100 acres (40 hectares) of rice were destroyed and some 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) were under threat, he said.

Siriwardene said cooked food and dry rations were being distributed to families who had taken refuge in public buildings. Others had moved in with relatives.

In Polonnaruwa, 550 people had to move out of their houses after floods damaged several of them, said N. Ranatunge, a local government spokesman. He said several roads were also impassable.

Most of the people in the flooded regions earn their living from cultivating rice, and coastal or lagoon fishing. Weather officials said the flooding was caused by a low pressure area building up in the south. Many states are in lowland areas and along the coastal belt where they are occasionally affected by floods.