Sri Lankan president orders relief as 300 remain missing in landslide
COLOMBO, Oct. 29 (Xinhua/Sun) -- Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has directed the government to fully support rescue efforts as around 300 people are feared dead from a landslide in central Sri Lanka, an official said here on Wednesday.
Rajapaksa has instructed the Ministry of Disaster Management, the army and provincial authorities to assist in the rescue operations that have dislodged as many as 120 houses, the President's Office announced in a short statement.
Fourteen bodies are reported to have been pulled from the massive landslide in central Sri Lanka but authorities have warned as many as 300 people remain missing.
The landslide smashed into a row of plantation homes in a mountainous area in the central town of Haldummulla in the Badulla District, early hours of Wednesday morning.
The area is still under landslide threat with additional mounds of earth making rescue efforts difficult.
If rains resume relief personnel are likely to pull out of the area, media reported.
"Fourteen bodies have been recovered from the site including the body of a priest at a Hindu temple that was swept away in the landslide," confirmed police spokesman Ajith Rohana to local media.
He added that tourists or foreigners have not been harmed in the landslide.
Rescue missions are underway with the aid of police, army and the state-run Disaster Management Centre (DMC).
Though the rescue missions are underway with the help of villages in a bid to find any survivors under the mountain of mud, according to the officials the probability of finding anyone alive is unlikely given the scale of the disaster.
Air force spokesperson Wing Commander Gihan Seneviratne said that a Bell 212 rescue helicopter has been deployed for the rescue operations.
A team representing the Landslide Research and Risk Management Division has too headed to the scene, it was reported.
Rains have stopped for the time being but additional landslides are a possibility, local authorities have reported.