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Authorities battle to get relief to stranded flood-hit villages

Heavy rains, highways buried under landslides and roads submerged under water are hampering efforts to get food, water and medicines to thousands of flood survivors in Sri Lanka, government officials and aid workers said.

The floods and landslides, triggered by torrential rains in recent days, have killed some 200 people and disrupted the lives of over half million others. Over 80,000 people have been forced into temporary shelters and around 100 people remain missing.

Government and military officials said the army and air force – using boats and helicopters – had managed to reach most of those affected, but persistent rains and inaccessible roads were hampering efforts to airdrop and distribute aid in some areas.

“The military was able to facilitate access to three landslide areas only yesterday. Hundreds of army personnel were deployed to remove the soil mounts from the landslides,” military spokesman Roshan Seneviratne told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The deluge, the worst Sri Lanka has witnessed in more than a decade, has forced the island to call for international assistance. The U.N., aid agencies, as well as India, China, Pakistan, Australia and Japan, have rallied to offer support.

The flooding has swept away hundreds of buildings and homes and inundated major roads, bridges and vast tracts of farmland – including tea and rubber plantations.

Military officials said they were still trying to access some remote villages in the worst affected districts of Galle, Matara, Kalutara and Rathnapura in the island’s south, but said that local communities have come forward to help.


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