Sri Lanka seeks international help after deadly flooding, landslides kill 122

By Reuters   May 29, 2017 | 08:12 am GMT+7

The disaster has claimed at least 122 lives, and 97 people are still missing.

The number of people known to have been killed in floods and landslides in Sri Lanka rose to 122, officials said on Saturday, as the country appealed for international assistance.

The state-run disaster management centre said 97 people were still missing after the worst torrential rains since 2003.

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A man searches the water on a flooded road in Dodangoda village in Kalutara, Sri Lanka May 28, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte.

The Foreign Ministry said that in coordination with the Disaster Management Ministry, an appeal had been made to the United Nations and neighbouring countries to provide assistance "especially in the areas of search and rescue operations".

India is sending three Navy ships with supplies and other aid, the first of which arrived in Colombo on Saturday.

Officials said deaths were reported from the western coastal district of Kalutara, the central southern district of Ratnapura and the southern district of Matara.

Sri Lankan military and rescue teams have used boats and helicopters, but officials said access to some areas was very difficult.

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Sri Lankan army soldiers carry food and water for landslide affected people, through the site, during a rescue mission in Athwelthota village, in Kalutara, Sri Lanka May 28, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte.

The early rainy season downpours have forced many families from their homes and affected over 415,618 people across the nation.

Police spokesman Priyantha Jayakody said multiple landslides were reported in Kalutara, Ratnapura and Matara.

Military spokesman Roshan Senevirathne said more than 2,000 military personnel had been deployed to help the police and civilian agencies.

The wettest time of the year in Sri Lanka's south is usually from May to September.

The island nation also gets heavy rains in the North West monsoonal season from November to February.

Sri Lankan meteorology officials said Thursday's rains were the worst since 2003 and they expected more in the coming days.