Sri Lanka Army troops, alert to the developing adverse weather patterns across the country on the instructions of General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army have already commenced their evacuation, rescue and relief operations in worst-hit areas as per directions of respective Commanders, Security Forces and General Officers Commanding in Divisions.
Troops of the 12 Sri Lanka Engineers (SLE) of the 612 Brigade under the 61 Division of the Security Force HQ - West (SFHQ-West) with the objective of pre-empting a vulnerable landslide warning in Mahakalupahana mountain range immediately evacuated 42 members, belonging to 11 families to the Wijesundararamaya temple premises early this morning (9) after a ‘red alert’ warning was issued by respective authorities.
Using their own vehicles, a group of more than 25 soldiers including officers evacuated them within minutes of the warning as per directions of the Commanding Officer, 12 SLE. At the same time, another batch of troops on the instructions of the Commander, Security Forces - West was deployed to provide security to the property and valuables of those households until they return after emergency conditions are over. 612 Brigade Commander is currently supervising those evacuating operations.
In the meantime, 1 Sri Lanka National Guard (SLNG) troops serving the 143 Brigade of the 14 Division under the SFHQ-West early this morning (9) using Army boats and vehicles began rescuing a few more than members in 50 families from Godawela, Polgahawela area, completely submerged by floodwaters. Accordingly, troops ferried many of them to safer places and nearby temples and other public places, convenient to them.
At the same time, 1 SLNG Commanding Officer deployed a team of Army personnel to provide security to those affected houses until flood threats recede from those areas.
Meanwhile, troops of the 58 Division of the 1 Corps of the Army and 143 Brigade troops were immediately dispatched to the Nedunkulam tank area in Puttalam which is on the verge of overflowing and vulnerable to any breach of the tank bund.
As of this morning (9), those troops after alerting villagers, resident in adjacent areas have started to lay sand bags along vulnerable points around the tank bund in order to strengthen its bund and avoid any further threat with spilling water levels. Those operations are closely monitored by the General Officer Commanding, 58 Division on the directions of Major General Harendra Ranasinghe, Commander, 1 Corps and the 143 Brigade Commander on the instructions of the General Officer Commanding, 14 Division under the SFHQ-West.
Similarly, troops serving flood-threatened Galle, Baddegama, Thihariya, Baduraliya, Kukuleganga, Dodangoda, Alawwa, Udubaddawa, Pannala, Bingiriya, Weerabugedara, Rasnayakapura, Narammala, Paduwasnuwara East and several other areas are fully on standby to meet with any worsening weather conditions in consultation with their respective Commanding Officers.
Earlier, at Dombemada, Rambukkana, troops rescued and evacuated a family buried alive early this morning (9). (See separate story)
8 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (SLSR) troops of the 611 Brigade under the 61 Division of the Security Force Headquarters - West (SFHQ-West) meanwhile, on Tuesday recovered the dead body of a young man (17) who has drowned while riding a Raft in the flood waters that covered Kodapaluwawa area in the Warakapola Police Division on Tuesday (9).
The ill-fated teenager, H.P Sandun Bandaragala (17) according to information has ridden this Raft alone when it overturned in the gushing waters that had inundated the whole area covering a stretch of paddy fields. Troops with the support of Policemen at Warakapola Police station using Army boats finally recovered the floating dead body of the victim. The remains were sent to the Warakapola Hospital for onward procedures.
Meanwhile, as per the directions given by the Commander 121 Brigade of the 12 Division, 121 Brigade troops during 1 -2 November cleaned the tank bund areas of the Kumbukkana tank as some patches of the bund remained blocked.
In the meantime 1 SLNG troops of the 142 Brigade and 14 Division of Security Forces- West hurried and rescued stranded family who have taken shelter on their roof of the house due to surging floods in the general area of Boyawalana in the Griulla Grama Niliadhari Division. When troops reached there those residents including women were found atop the roof and remained helpless. Troops after taking Army their rescue boats evacuated safely.
Similarly, 2 Sri Lanka Light Infantry troops stacked sand bags around the anicut and the bund of Kelani River at Ihala Bomiriya- threatened with imminent split due to overflowing the Kelani river.
In addition, 6 Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment troops of the Brigade are currently stacking sand bags to prevent further breach of the left bank of the Deduru Oya near the 30th Mile Post.
In the meantime, 30 stranded people of 9 families, affected badly by floods in the general area of Galgamuwa, Alawwa were immediately rescued this morning (9) by 10 Sri Lanka National Guard (SLNG) troops of the 611 Brigade under the 61 Division of the Security Force HQ - West.
10 SLNG troops using their own boats evacuated people including small children from those flooded areas as those civilians remained stranded since Monday (8) evening with the non-ending torrential rainfalls that completely inundated the areas without being unable to move out.
Meanwhile, 542 Brigade troops under the 54 Division of the Security Force HQ - Wanni (SFHQ-W) in the face of swelling water levels in the Kokkamadu tank in Madukare, Murunkan ensured the canal that carries tank water from Madukare road to farming community was repaired in consultation with the irrigation engineer in the area since overflowing water has partly damaged the road.
In response to a request made to the troops by the District Secretary for Mannar, the General Officer Commanding, 54 Division, Major General Dharshana Wijesekara instructed the Commander, 542 Brigade to rush 15(V) Gemunu Watch (GW) troops to the area and take necessary action to prevent further erosion of the situation as canal waters continued to spill and damage the road patch. The task was completed by Monday (8) evening.
Similarly, 2 Mechanized Infantry Regiment (MIR) troops of the 213 Brigade of the 21 Division under the SFHQ-Wanni responding to a request made by the Grama Niladhari of the 400-acre Grama Niladhari Division in Vavuniya with the assistance of residents in the area, repaired the Aluthgama tank bund on Tuesday (02) as some parts of the bund needed repairs and renovations at the earliest.
This programme was organized according to the instructions of the Wanni Commander, Major General Champaka Ranasinghe under the guidance of the General Officer Commanding, 21 Division, Major General Mohan Rathnayake. The Commander, 213 Brigade, Colonel Jagath Ariyathilaka and the Commanding Officer, 2 MIR supervised the entire project.
In another emergency need, 21 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment troops of the 563 Brigade under the 56 Division of the Security Force HQ - Wanni on Sunday (31) night rushed to the Nochchikulam tank area amid heavy downpours and immediately attended to mending of the threatened tank bund patches before the bund was split due to swelling water levels.
On the instructions of Major General Laksiri Perera, General Officer Commanding, 56 Division, Brigadier Panduka Perera, Commander, 563 Brigade, mobilized 21 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment troops around midnight to take up the challenge of repairing threatened bund patches placing sandbags and plastering. The contribution of the troops enabled to avert a major disaster due to their timely intervention.