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    Koslanda landslide the worst and most unfortunate disaster in recent times

    October 30, 2014

    Koslanda landslide could be termed as the worst and most unfortunate natural that befell on this nation in recent times, Chief Government Whip Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said in Parliament this morning.


    Making a special statement the Minister said that the President took swift action as soon as he heard of the disaster and gave necessary instructions to the Army, Provincial Councils, District and Divisional Secretariats and Pradeshiya Sabhas to coordinate the rescue and relief efforts. “Despite atrocious climate conditions all efforts were being taken everybody necessary to respond to emergency situations have been deployed to mitigate the damages and to provide relief to the affected. President visited the site this morning and actively participated in inspecting the relief provided to people affected.”


    Following heavy monsoonal rains the landslide took place in Meeriyabedda, Koslanda at Haldummulla which is an area that had been identified as a vulnerable to disasters. The disaster damaged 63 houses in six estate house lines affecting 337 persons of 57 families. A community centre, two milk collecting centres, a Hindu kovil, two boutique shops, two estate bungalows have been damaged. In all those families, 75 children and 100 adults were not there when the disaster struck. The landslide was still active at 8.00 pm last evening as the heavy showers continued. However the search and rescue operations continued despite heavy rains and winds. Four bodies have so far been recovered but we are still not able to give an exact number of the dead.


    Minister said that 317 of 522 affected families have been temporarily provided shelter at the Tamil Maha Vidyalaya in Koslanda while 202 others have been given refuge at Poonagala Tamil Maha Vidyalaya. They would be provided with all facilities and food. On the instructions of the President and under the supervision of the Minister of Disaster Management all officials of the Provincial Council, District Secretariat, divisional secretariats, National Building Research Organisation, Disaster Management Units of the District Secretariats, tri-forces and police, hospitals have been deployed in the operations to rescue, help and provide assistance to the people affected by the disaster.


    Arrangements for the funerals of those killed in the disaster would be taken care of the government. The government would provide dry rations, food, clothing and other necessities of the affected. The government also hoped that unaffected people in the area, non-governmental organizations and other institutions affiliated to provincial councils would cooperate with the government operations at this hour of need.


    The needs of the children who lost their parents in the disaster too would be taken care of, he said.


    The President visited Koslanda yesterday afternoon and a special meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers was to be held last evening to decide future course of actions. He would address the nation soon after that, Minister Gunawardena said.
    Many of the people who perished in the Koslanda landslide had continued to occupy their homes in the landslide prone area despite repeated warnings for them to move to safer locations, he said.


    The area where the disaster occurred has been identified as a landslide prone area as far back as 2005. “It was recommended in 2005 that 75 families be shifted from this place and they were provided with alternative houses and the area was declared as a reserve. In 2011 the possible danger from landslides had been further confirmed and 35 families have been given the option to move to a safer area, according to District Secretariat.”


    However despite the new land being given, many people had continued to occupy their old homes in the area which was destroyed in the landslide, Minister Gunawardena.


    He said the Koslanda landslide was the most unfortunate natural disaster that had been experienced by the country in recent times. The President, the government and entire nation mourns the tragic deaths and expressed their condolences to the affected people. (Special Reporter/HC) 

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