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Sri Lanka appeals for aid after deadly floods

Sri Lanka appeals for aid after deadly floods

The UN said it was assisting in relief efforts in response to a government appeal.

Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Center also issued evacuation notices to residents along the Kelani River, which flows through the capital Colombo, amid fears that it was about to burst its banks.

The emergency is reportedly the worst since 2003 when a tropical cyclone swept through southwest Sri Lanka, causing flooding and landslides that killed 260 people and destroyed nearly 25,000 homes.

"I have my doubts" that any survivors will be found, said army Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, who is heading the search and rescue mission. Already more than 75,000 people have taken shelter in 337 relief camps set up in the south and west.

Sri Lanka has appealed for worldwide assistance in the wake of the disaster.

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Rescue workers on Sunday made use of a brief respite in the rains to clear debris and improve access to some of the affected areas.

Heavy rain and strong winds is forecast to continue into the first week of June, raising the risk that current conditions may worsen with land access to many affected areas restricted due to water inundation and landslides.

Relief operations picked up Sunday to care for half a million people driven from their flooded homes as the death toll from the monsoon havoc rose to 146 with another 112 listed as missing.

Army boats skimmed along water-filled village streets, while flood victims waded through the brackish waters to army trucks carrying relief supplies.

Some 412 houses were fully damaged with over 4,200 houses suffering partial damage.

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Flood waters were receding in the worst affected districts of Ratnapura and Kalutara but the authorities said cleaning up operations could take weeks.

"The flood levels near Colombo have also gone down because we did not have rain in the past 24 hours".

Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror newspaper said a second Indian naval ship, the INS Shardul, had arrived in Colombo with relief supplies and inflatable boats.

The UNICEF has donated water containers, water purification tables and tarpaulin sheets for immediate distribution, while the World Health Organization is working with the Health Ministry to deploy medical teams.

In addition, half a million people had to leave their homes.

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Mudslides have become common during Sri Lanka's summer monsoons, as forests across the tropical Indian Ocean island nation are cleared for export crops such as tea and rubber.