Sri Lanka Express

SLE News - International assistance is pouring into Sri Lanka as the government continued efforts to provide relief to tens of thousands of people affected by severe floods and landslides owing to days of heavy rains.   Torrential rains in Sri Lanka has forced over 375,000 from their homes and stranded thousands in the worst flooding to hit the island in decades.

Two Indian naval ships with aid supplies are expected to reach the country on Saturday, in addition to an Indian transport carrier scheduled to arrive with relief supplies on Friday night, Defense Ministry officials said.

The United States has provided 50,000 US dollars for emergency humanitarian aid to meet the urgent needs of victims of the ongoing landslides and flooding, officials added.

The meager U.S. assistance is raising eyebrows in light of the boast by both sides of strengthened relations between Colombo and Washington. However, $50,000 is the maximum immediately available  from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for relief efforts. 

Nepal which is facing challenges of its own  recovering from the massive April 2015 earthquake that killed over 8000 people has contributed $100,000.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has sent a message of condolence to Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and expressed willingness to offer assistance, according to Xinhua news agency.  But no funds have been released to Colombo.  
“We believe that under the leadership of the Sri Lankan government, the people of Sri Lanka will definitely be able to overcome difficulties and the disaster,” Foreign Minister Wang said in his message. 

Other countries which have pledged assistance include Pakistan and Australia while the Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland on Friday called on Commonwealth member countries to provide support to Sri Lanka through coordinated operation in the aftermath of devastating landslides which struck in Sri Lanka's Kegalle District.

The Sri Lankan government estimates 200,000 of the displaced are from the capital of Colombo alone.

Evacuation efforts by the military continued in Colombo on Friday and Saturday as houses remained underwater due to severe rains in the past week.

The Navy said efforts were being made to evacuate families living in flood prone areas in case the rains continue. Navy boats were also patrolling the flooded areas distributing aid and water to the families who were residing in the upper floors of their houses.

"We are trying our best to evacuate the people, but many families do not want to move. We cannot leave them there. It is dangerous," Xinhua quoted a navy official involved in rescue efforts in flood hit Kollonnawa as saying.

The armed forces were also involved in distributing aid in flood hit Kelaniya, just outside the capital as water levels reached a dangerous level.  (From wire services)