Published on - 1/4/2005
Troops of the Sri Lanka Army, rising to the occasion were able to clear several main roads including road stretches between Moratuwa â€“ Bentota and Nonagama â€“ Hambantota on the main Colombo â€“ Kataragama road (Galle road) and facilitated transportation by late Monday (27) afternoon.
Troops, supported by civil organizations and the Police used heavy earth - moving machinery and cleared this vital highway (Galle Road) which was which was badly damaged and infested with debris and boulders that were washed on to the middle of the road after devastating tidal waves hit the coastal belt of Sri Lanka on Sunday (26).
In response to the Government declared State of National Disaster after troops were called out for duty, all members of the Armed Forces jumped into action swiftly in spite of many setbacks and constraints that caused to their own troops. The Army under the command of Lt Gen Shantha Kottegoda rushed to the scene, took the challenge and commenced supporting civil coordinating activities in operation.
The Army, as an immediate relief measure, provided over 7000 packets of cooked meals the same night through Air Force for distribution while helping those affected in Colombo Modara area in the aftermath of the disaster.
Troops in cooperation with the Police actively helped maintain law and order in some vulnerable areas where a couple of untoward incidents were reported. Realizing the gravity of the consequences, all Security Forces detachments in the North and East prepared as many cooked meal packets as possible and went on to distribute them among those badly affected and stranded civilians.
Meanwhile Security Forces, despite the catastrophic nature of the tragedy after careful surveillance, began to restore and rebuild all damaged camps, detachments, defence lines and bunkers that were mostly found in the North & East of the Country.
By early morning on Monday, the Army established an adhoc receiving center at Rathmalana Army Transit Camp where people were asked to deliver cooked meals for distribution among those displaced. The overwhelming response received at this center was a huge success since many civil organizations went on delivering their contributions, barely a few hours after it was established. Hambantota, Matara, Trincomalee, Ampara, Batticaloa, Galle and Palaly are among a few major places where large numbers of Army troops have been deployed to assist ongoing rescue and relief operations. Those troops comprise over 35 members of the Army Medical Corps who are engaged in providing medical and nursing assistance in different affected areas in liaison with civil medical authorities.
It is assumed that power supply to many affected areas could be restored within next couple of hours after troops facilitated their passage by road. Sri Lankan Armed Forces amidst fears of imminent outbreaks of epidemics,organized a number of drains that could carry polluted water into the sea basin before they initiated several public road clearing operations. Naval troops who have deployed almost all their vessels are on alert to face any eventuality.
The Army Seva Vanitha Unit meanwhile is busy organizing its own fund-collecting programme after its president Mrs Soniya Kottegoda publicly appealed to the public for help.
A similar tri-service Disaster Relief Center is now open at the Galle Face round the clock enabling the public to bring in their contributions by way of dry rations, etc. The public are kindly requested to deliver their relief items to this Center.