21st May 2016 06:24:17 Hours
Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva, Commander of the Army, intending to take stock of devastating flood realities at ground level and supervise ongoing Army rescue and relief operations in worst-hit areas of Colombo suburbs, toured Wellampitiya and Kolonnawa areas in the past 24 hours.
Firstly, he paused near the fly-over at Wellampitiya - Hanwella Road, close to Orugodawatte for about half an hour where Army troops are engaged in rescue operations, using several water-friendly armoured tanks (WMZ) and observed how evacuation of victims was carried out with their help.
He also closely observed how Army personnel holding ropes along this narrow main road were guiding the victims who were fleeing inundated areas as water levels were fast swelling. Lieutenant General De Silva advised the troops to be very cautious in holding those hanging ropes precisely along the road, enabling the exodus to avoid submerged roadside bridges, culverts, etc since water levels continued to remain more than 12 ft above the ground as of Thursday (19) evening.
Afterwards, he visited one of the worst-affected places, the heart of Wellampitiya town and sat for a discussion with the Superintendent of Police, Officer In Charge at Wellampitiya Police Station and Navy officers, coordinating emergency operations from the Police Station with a view to gathering a first-hand exposure on the developments.
Convinced of the urgent need for more and more Army personnel to manage with the influx of victims and casualties at Wellampitiya, the Commander assured the dispatch of another team of Commandos and Army divers after a short while. He also walked to a few inundated places around the Wellampitiya town centre and saw for himself how his own troops, sailors and Policemen, were busy conducting rescue and relocating operations in full swing.
During an aerial surveillance on Friday (20), the Commander, together with the Navy Commander and the IGP, flew around the entire region and touched down at Kaduwela. The Army Chief met the Special Forces on duty around the town and received an update from the 14 Division General Officer Commanding who was in charge of the operations in Kaduwela area. He also inquired into the needs of the victims and the troops working round the clock. Accompanying Navy Commander and the IGP too spoke to their personnel and inquired into the developments.