30th May 2017 13:54:49 Hours
Continuing Army humanitarian search, rescue and relocation operations, using troop carriers, bachoes, excavators, trailers, boats and all other types of machinery, have moved into top gear, although torrential rains in many worst-affected areas across the country, had subsided in the past 48 hours.
Alert Army troops of the 12 Division late Sunday (28) evening, hurried to flood-threatened Naimbala area in Matara and took immediate steps to prevent any imminent burst of the Nilwala river bank by stacking as many sand bags as possible, atop the vulnerable patch in the river bank, in consultation with officials of the Department of Irrigation, and the whole operation, has lasted overnight until this morning (29) as ravaging and swelling waters began, accumulating into the main river, along with receding waters.
Similarly, troops had to make Army troop carriers, buffles and other machinery swiftly available to bereaved civilians to move away their dead victims, coffins and accompanying next of kin of those victims to specific places for necessary post mortems, legal documentations and subsequent burials, in close coordination with the Police, medical authorities, Disaster Management Centre (DMC) and other relevant agencies since some of those water-bloated corpses have already turned decomposed and unhygienic. (See photos)
Immediate stacking of sand bags, evacuation of victims from vulnerable points, clearance of roads, food distribution, boat operations, supply of medicine, rescue and relief services, relocation of victims to safer places, support for restoration of power and telecommunication services, removal of water blockages, boulders, earth and fallen trees and other impediments on public roads and civilian houses, conduct of searches for missing personnel, support for facilitation of public transport, coordination of relief operations with the DMC and other necessary authorities, cleaning of most required waterways with small machinery for easy flow of water, evacuation of serious patients to hospitals, clearing of debris and clogged garbage, etc, and almost all other related relief operations in flood-wreaked Neluwa, Thawalama, Nagoda, Galle Fort, Baddegama, Morawaka, Pitabeddara, Kamburupitiya, Athwelthota, Bulathsinhala, Kalutara, Dehiowita, Mudunkotuwa, Rathnapura, Thoranagoda, Ambalapitiya, Mabima, Kahatapitiya, Kaduwela, Orugodawatta, Meethotamulla, Dalugama, Colombo, Agalawatta, Matara, Akuressa, Morawaka, Deniyaya, Ehaliyagoda, Pahiyangala, Kalawana, Millaniya, Kahawatta, Pelmadulla, Nadurukanda, Kukuleganga, Kelinkanda, Molkawa, Seeduwa, Agalawatta, Dombagoda and in all other affected areas, are being largely spearheaded by more than 1700 soldiers, including Commandos of the Security Force Headquarters - West, 58 Division, 12 Division under the close supervision of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Crisanthe De Silva who also personally visited some of those areas.
Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, Commander, Security Forces - West, who is also the Senior Officer in charge of overall rescue and relief operations, together with the General Officer Commanding, 12 Division, General Officer Commanding, 58 Division, General Officers Commanding in 14 and 53 Divisions, has been working round the clock, maintaining very close rapport with the DMC, District and Divisional Secretariats, Navy, Air Force and Police personnel, Grama Seva officials, relevant authorities, state agencies, etc.
In the meantime, Army medical personnel of the Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps (SLAMC), now deployed in Kalawana, Bulathsinhala, Pahiyangala, Kahaduwa and Galle areas continue their humanitarian services by way of prescribing necessary medicine and treating them for minor ailments while running temporary medical stations.
Troops of 17 Battalions, comprised of Sri Lanka Army General Service Corps (SLAGSC), Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI), 1 Sri Lanka Army Pioneer Corps (SLAPC), SLAGSC Regimental Headquarters, SLLI Regimental Headquarters, 5, 6, 8, 9, 16 (V) and 3 (V) Gemunu Watch (GW), 8 and 12 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (SLSR), 4 (V) Corps of Engineer Service (CES), Mechanized Infantry Regiment (MIR), 8 SLLI, 10 Sri Lanka National Guard (SLNG), 11 Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (VIR), Armour Brigade, 1 Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC), Sri Lanka Electrical Mechanical and Engineers (SLEME), 5 and 12 Sri Lanka Engineers (SLE), 5 Sri Lanka Signal Corps (SLSC), Commando Regiment, 6 Sri Lanka Artillery (SLA), Special Forces (SF), Engineer Brigade and 1 Special Forces under 581, 582 and 583 Brigades of the 58 Division Headquarters, 141 and 142 Brigades of the 14 Division, 533 Brigade of the 53 Division including the Air Mobile Brigade, Commando Brigade, Special Forces Brigade, Institute of Peace Support Operations Training (IPSOTSL) and training centers, are currently engaged in these rescue and relief operations. In addition, a few more troop contingents are currently on standby in most vulnerable areas for quick dispatch, if replenishments are deemed necessary, depending on the behaviour of extreme weather conditions.
Meanwhile, Army cooks and troops in the past few days after inclement weather patterns began to hit the country have launched a comprehensive arrangement to prepare emergency meal packets at various locations for distribution among the victims on the directions of the Commander of the Army as the situation was turning worse a few hours ago.
Directorate of Supply and Transport (S&T) of the Army in the past three days has been able to prepare more than 25000 - 30000 meal packets for distribution among the displaced on the directions of the Commander of the Army. Similarly, a fleet of heavy vehicle carriers, supporting and other recovery vehicles have also been mobilized by the same Directorate to different areas, following case by case assessment in respective Army formations. In addition, Army troops in Ratnapura, Matara, Galle, 58 Division Headquarters, Panagoda Army Cantonment, Kalutara, Gampaha and other areas are also in the practice of preparing such meal packets on a daily basis in response to needs of the victims.
Likewise, 5 Sri Lanka Signal Corps (SLSC) troops, considering the breakdown in communication networks, has devised an emergency transmission network for the use of Army troops through radio sets since hundreds of mobilized troops are committed tirelessly in remote and different isolated areas, still remaining with less communication.