In the wake of worsening weather conditions and torrential rains, hundreds of Army troops on the directions of the Commander of the Army and the Ministry of Defence have rushed to island-wide affected areas to provide relief and engage in rescue operations, braving risks involved.
A mass lump of soil that has fallen in the general area of Dehiowita, Kohilagedara in Eheliyagoda had to be removed by Engineer troops this morning (16) since it has affected the movement in the area. More than 55 Army troops are still engaged in the clearance work with the help of heavy machinery as the report was compiled. (see photos)In the meantime, 121 Brigade troops of the 12 Division, commanded by Colonel K.A.N.N. Koswatte immediately made a detour to avoid travel across the damaged bridge at 24th Mile Post in Gonaganara along Buttala - Kataragama main road after the repair work to the bridge began early this morning (16). Troops with the help of civilians in the area prepared the detour and facilitated the vehicle movement that remained obstructed.
Following heavy storms that swept across Nalluruwa, Panadura areas on Sunday (15), 14 Division troops, commanded by Brigadier P.J Gamage, General Officer Commanding, 14 Division of the Security Force Headquarters - West (SFHQ-West), hurried to the area and began renovating damaged houses and other properties. Troops numbering about 165 were re-thatching blown off roofs of those 30 houses in the area as the dusk fell on Sunday (15).
In the meantime, Army troops attending rescue operations at Dennis Worth Estate, Deraniyagala where several line houses of an estate were washed away in a landslide, causing disappearance of three persons this morning (16), recovered the remains of a civilian, buried alive in the landslide. Civilians also recovered one more dead body from the location.
More than 60 Army personnel of the 583 Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Chandula Hathnagoda, Brigade Commander, 583 Brigade are still engaged in those rescue and relief operations with the assistance of residents in the area.
Meanwhile, members of the Army have been sent to Diyawanna Oya area around the Parliament complex to be alert to the swelling water levels in the Diyawanna Oya. A total of 25 Army personnel of the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps were busy stacking sand bags along the vulnerable points that could spill water over the Oya banks. A patch of the main road near the Parliament complex was under water at the time the troops reached the location.
Ministry of Defence in the meantime in a special communiqué advised the public to seek any rain / flood related emergency assistance from tri-services through following telephone numbers.
Emergency Operation Rooms of the MoD
Army - 0112434251 / 0113818578
Navy - 0112445368 / 0112212230 / 0112212231
Air Force - 0112343970 / 0112343971
Affected civilians can also contact the nearest Police Station, Divisional Secretariat or directly the Disaster Management Centre if the above lines remain busy.
Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva, Commander of the Army paying highest priority to the disaster situation in the country has instructed Director Operations and other relevant senior officers to monitor the developments and implement all necessary measures in close cooperation with state agencies and respective local authorities.