Race to rescue Sri Lanka flood victims as toll rises

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Sri Lanka has experienced scattered showers in many parts in the past 24 hours but flood waters are rapidly receding, officials said. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe, who is heading the search and rescue mission.

Water levels in rivers in the districts of Hambantota and Ratnapura have begun to fall, but in other places such as the Nilvala river, levels are on the rise, DMC spokesperson Pradeep Kodippili, told Efe news.

Most victims were killed by landslides, not the flood waters, as their homes on hillsides were buried under torrents of mud and rock.

The worst flooding in 14 years was brought on by monsoon rains across southwestern portions of the country, according to Sri Lanka's Ministry of Disaster Management.

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The military has deployed helicopters, boats and amphibious vehicles to distribute aid pouring in from residents in areas not affected by the floods.

The authorities estimated nearly 442,000 people were affected by the disaster and more than 1,800 homes were destroyed or damaged.

The government Tuesday decided not to proceed with the purchase of luxury cars for ministers at a cost of over two million dollars and instead set aside more money for flood and landslide victims.

A Sri Lankan boy holds a food packet as he wades through a flooded street in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, May 28, 2017.

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The charity Save the Children said about a tenth of those displaced were aged below five.

Senaratne said medical teams have been dispatched to the worst affected areas to prevent an outbreak of waterborne diseases, and said cholera and diarrhea had been successfully prevented in past floods.

The heavy rains ― the worst to hit Sri Lanka since 2003 ― wreaked havoc across the country in previous days, causing both widespread flooding and devastating landslides. A third Indian ship, INS Jalashwa, with additional relief material, is also expected to arrive today with more relief. Special medical teams have been sent to the affected areas, while medicine has been sent by air to hospitals for which access has been cut off, he said.

With more downpours expected on Monday, rescuers raced to evacuate people from the most vulnerable areas. It had diving teams, relief supplies, inflatable gemini boats and a mobile medical teams. India sent a shipload of goods while the United States and Pakistan also promised consignments of relief supplies.

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