The Meethotamulla garbage dump is likely to crash again if heavy rains occur within the next few days, says Director of Landslides Research and Disaster Management Division of the National Building Research Organization (NBRO) R. M. S. Bandara.
Bandara told that there was a difference between a garbage dump crash and a landslide. “This is the first time we have seen a disaster of this nature here. Under the sheer weight of the garbage dump a lower layer of earth gave way, causing the collapse of the dump. The authorities have stopped dumping garbage at the site. But, more crashes are likely to happen if the area receives heavy rains within the next few days. So, we have already called for the evacuation of people living near the garbage dump.
We have identified about 130 houses which are vulnerable.”
Meanwhile, the death toll from the Meethotamulla garbage dump disaster rose to 30 yesterday and the number of persons reported missing stood at 32, according to the number of complaints lodged with the Disaster Management Centre (DMC).
Assistant Director of the DMC, Pradeep Kodippily said 981 individuals belonging to 228 families had been displaced following the New Year day tragedy.
Records maintained at the Kolonnawa Divisional Secretariat have showed that only 1,770 individuals belonging to 402 families had lived in the area prior to the disaster. Among them had been unauthorized settlers, Kodippily said. They were residents of Nagahamulla, Daham Mawatha and Garden 23.
All the displaced have been accommodated at the Terrence N. de Silva Maha Vidyalaya, Kolonnawa.
Post mortems on all 30 casualties had been performed and they included six children, Colombo Chief Judicial Medical Officer Dr. Ajith Tennakoon said.
He said all of them had died due to being crushed.
The rescue/recovery operations continued yesterday with about 1,500 security forces members taking part therein.
Meanwhile, with the suspension of dumping of garbage at Meethotamulla, the Colombo Municipal Council has decided to unload its garbage at three different locations.
Asked where garbage would be dumped, Municipal Commissioner V. K.A. Anura said that would be one usual and he could not divulge the locations as their publication by the media could result in fresh protests and sabotaging of the whole operation.