Sri Lanka Army

Defenders of the Nation

20th May 2016 01:21:46 Hours

UPDATE: Army Rescue & Relief Operations in Full Swing Under Commander's Close Supervision; Elderly Inmates Evacuated & Thousands of Meal Packets Distributed

On the direct supervision of the Commander of the Army, the Army’s Independent Supply Depot of the Supply and Transport (S & T) Directorate, responding to the requests for assistance, made by respective Divisional Secretaries in Colombo District, supplied about 10,000 cooked meal packets to the flood victims in Kolonnawa, Dompe, Biyagama and Kelaniya areas for distribution through respective government officials this afternoon (19).

Responding quickly to those SOS requests of state officials, the Commander instructed Major General A.K.P Wickremasinghe, Director General S & T to make necessary cooking arrangements at Kelaniya Independent Supply Depot premises within hours, beginning Wednesday (18) afternoon as an emergency measure.

Accordingly, the Army supplied 5000 cooked meal packets on Wednesday (18) and another stock of 10,000 meal packets on Thursday (19), together with a consignment of 5000 water bottles to above-mentioned areas with direct coordination of respective state officials.    

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva, Commander of the Army monitoring the disaster situation closely, advised all Security Force Commanders, General Officers Commanding, Brigade Commanders and other Unit Commanders this morning (19) to initiate deployment of more and more Army personnel for worst-affected areas, evaluating changing weather patterns and rising water levels at respective regions. Sri Lanka Navy has come forward to rescue stranded people launching a fleet of rescue boats.

By Thursday afternoon (19), more than 1500 Army personnel and 71 officers, including Commandos have been deployed in worst-affected areas across the country for immediate search, rescue and relief operations and the Army on the directions of the Commander has organized another emergency contingent to stand by in case of a worst scenario, Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera, Military Spokesman told the www.army.lk.

Meanwhile, Army troops in action at Bulathkohupitiya, Kalupahanawatta after the massive land-slide has struck Kalupahana Hill recovered three more dead bodies by Thursday (19) afternoon during rescue operations. With this latest recovery, 14 Division troops continuing operations, have so far recovered 8 dead bodies, belonging to 4 males and 4 females.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Army troops in landslide-affected Aranayaka, Siripura, Elangapitiya and Pallebage areas have supported the re-location of displaced people in temples, schools and other temporary shelters in 7 places after more than 130 houses were completely washed away in the devastating landslide which has so far claimed 14 lives.

In the meantime, subsequent to the overflowing of the Kelani river, hundreds of families in areas, like Peliyagoda, Kelaniya, Bakinigahaela, Dompe, Kirindiwela, Kaduwela, Bomiriya, Nawagamuwa, Ambatale and other low-lying peripheries, still remain stranded and Sri Lanka Army troops of the 141 Brigade and the 142 Brigade of the Security Force Headquarters - West (SFHQ-West) are busy providing all possible assistance, following the personal supervision of the Commander of the Army. Troops of the 141 Brigade and 142 Brigade of the SFHQ-West meanwhile in the past three days have managed to provide thousands of cooked meal packets to displaced civilians in Colombo district after many Divisional Secretariats and different organizations provided dry food items to the Army for preparation. Sri Lanka Air Force helicopters at the same time continue to air drop cooked meal packets to the stranded people in worst affected areas.

On Wednesday (18), 8 Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) troops and Combat Diving Squadron of the Special Forces (SF) on the directions of the SFHQ-West opened a sluice gate at Makawita area in Gampaha as the flood threat was swelling in the area. Around the same time, more than 26 Army troops of the 8 SLLI, 14 (V) SLLI and 1 Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC) immediately attended to a repair on a possible split in a sluice gate at Pethiyagoda, Kelaniya and prevented it from further erosion by stacking sand bags.    

Similarly, troops in Gampaha, Kalutara, Galle, Ratnapura, Kurunegala and Kegalle Districts have jumped into action by way of providing relief assistance and all other emergency needs.

Meanwhile, a mini landslide has hit St John Dillary Estate in the Venver Grama Seva sector of the Ambagamuwa Divisional Secretariat area, displacing 77 civilians of 12 families on Tuesday (17). On the directions of the Security Force Headquarters - Central (SFHQ-C), 22 Sri Lanka National Guard (SLNG) troops attended to their needs at the temporary shelter, Child Development Centre and has set up a mobile medical clinic in order to treat them for mild ailments, colds and fever.

Similarly, 96 civilians of 18 families from Land Rocks Estate at Samimale in Ambagamuwa Divisional Secretariat and 47 more civilians, belonging to 14 families of Bovilwatta, Nawalapitiya who have been affected with earth slips and possible landslide threats, have now been accommodated at Samimale Child Development Centre and Baharanda Tamil School in Nawalapitiya respectively. Army troops have provided basic medical requirements and other needs in coordination with the officials of the Ambagamuwa and Nawalapitiya Divisional Secretariats.

Meanwhile, the opening of the sluice gates at the Rajanganaya reservoir has affected the civilians residing in Saliyawewa, Kalaoya where the overflowing of the Kalaoya reservoir, took place on May 17. Troops of the Non Commissioned Officers Training School (NCOTS) at Kalaoya quickly responded and evacuated more than 25 homeless elders, resident in the Kalaoya Loordu Matha Church-managed Home for the Elders.

Same troops in the NCOTS began cleaning the flood waters that had inundated the nearby Sri Wijayarama Temple and the Church around the same time since the waters were very much contaminated and stinking, posing a health threat to the whole area.

In the meantime, 212 Brigade troops of the 21 Division serving Security Force Headquarters - Wanni (SFHQ-W) swiftly acted and re-located 56 civilians in 17 families in Katupathwewa area, Thalawa, Anuradhapura on Wednesday (18) after their homes submerged in flood water. Troops provided cooked meals and basic medical needs of those displaced people soon after they were temporarily accommodated in nearby common places and schools.

Meanwhile, 25 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (SLSR) troops of the 542 Brigade under the 54 Division in Mannar were compelled to open several sluice gates of the Potkanni tank, Silawathura on 18 May as the tank began to spill waters with the fall of torrential rains.

Similarly, 24 Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (VIR) troops of the 541 Brigade under the 54 Division of the Security Force Headquarters - Wanni had to rush to the Kalliyadi tank, Manthai West, Mannar after the people reported that there exists a sharp leak in the tank bund and it was on the verge of breaching as the water level was fast rising. Troops immediately stacked sand bags, mended several vulnerable points and averted a looming catastrophe as per advice of Irrigation Department officials who were summoned to the venue. Major General Boniface Perera, Commander, Security Force - Wanni has instructed all formations in the Wanni sector to be alert and provide all possible assistance to the victims.

In the same vein, 10 Sri Lanka Artillery (SLA) troops under the 21 Division of the Security Force Headquarters - Wanni evacuated 17 families from Mudungoda, Galnewa area in the Anuradhapura District after their houses went under water. Troops using Army vehicles immediately evacuated them with their belongings to nearby schools and provided them with basic medical needs and other facilities after informing the officials of the Divisional Secretariat.            

In the meantime, a 30-membr contingent of 24 Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) of the Security Force Headquarters - Wanni (SFHQ-W) hurried to the Muhundankulam tank in Settikulam area along Mannar - Medawachchiya road on Thursday (19) after the troops were informed of a possible split in the tank bund as the water levels were rising. Troops immediately attended to the repairs and protected the tank bund from breaching.

Similarly, troops serving the Security Force Headquarters - Kilinochchi (SFHQ-KLN) have risen to the occasion on the directions of Major General Amal Karunasekara, Commander, SF-KLN rendering a variety of emergency services to flood affected and vulnerable civilians in respective areas.

On Wednesday (18), Army, Navy and Police personnel jointly laboured to restore the movement across the Mandagalaru bridge along Mannar-Jaffna road (A-32) after the bridge came under flood water due to torrential rains. Troops with the support of fishing community in Pallikuda area made arrangements for the civilians to cross the bridge using the boats provided by the Navy and fishermen.

Similarly, 14 Sri Lanka National Guard (SLNG) troops in the SFHQ-KLN acted timely and averted a breach in the Nethilaru bridge between Dharmapuram and Vishwamadu on A-35 road Wednesday (18) evening. Placing of sand bags and mending done by the troops however prevented its damage facilitating continued vehicle movements.

Meanwhile, troops through coordination of the civil affairs officer in the SFHQ-KLN during May 17 - 18 managed to provide cooked meals to a large number of flood-affected civilians in Ambalnagar, Marathanagar, Paranthankudyirippu, Nadanpudyirippu and Umayalapuram in areas coming under the purview of the SFHQ-KLN.