Flood waters were receding Saturday with only few showers in the worst affected areas where a military-led relief operation reached all marooned villagers as the monsoon death toll hit 113.
The authorities stepped up sending cooked food and other essentials to tens of thousands of people who were forced out of their flooded homes in seven districts. Kalutara and Ratnapura reported the highest deaths, almost all of them caused by the collapse of mountain sides on homes.
Neighbouring India was the first to rush aid. New Delhi sent Indian navy vessel INS Kirch with inflatable boats, medical supplies and doctors.
Pakistan said it was in talks with Sri Lankan authorities to identify its needs. It reminded that only a few weeks ago it had donated 10,000 tonnes of rice as drought relief to Sri Lanka.
Official sources said 460,000 people were affected by the flooding caused by Friday’s intense monsoon deluge.
The met office noted that the rains had subsided, but there could be a spike in showers on Monday and Tuesday. However, the office said it did not expect rains to be as intense as Friday.
Friday’s rain had triggered the worst flooding and landslides in 14 years in the southern and western parts of the country.
The Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said 113 people were confirmed killed while another 110 were missing.
The military conducted search operations in landslide-hit areas and the air force deployed five aircraft for rescue operations and another five to transport emergency supplies to villagers who could not be reached by road.
Home Affairs minister Vajira Abeywardena said that while the worst of the rain was over, there was a danger of fresh flooding downstream.
He urged people living in low-lying areas to move to higher ground. He said the government was air dropping 10,000 life jackets for marooned people until they could be moved to safer ground.
President Maithripala Sirisena, who returned from a state visit to Australia, rushed to Kalutara, just south of the capital Colombo, to supervise relief operations.
“I visited the disaster-affected Kalutara district this morning. The government will give new houses to those who lost their houses,” the President said on twitter.
At the village of Bulathsinhala, relatives were seen loading coffins of 10 victims onto army armoured personnel carriers to transport them across flooded streets to high ground for burial.
There were similar scenes in the adjoining Ratnapura district, the island’s gem capital, which was also flooded.
The flooding is the worst since May 2003 when 250 people were killed and 10,000 homes destroyed after a similarly powerful monsoon, officials said.
Monsoon rains last year caused flooding and landslides, killing just over 100 people.
The DMC said the latest monsoon ended a prolonged drought that had threatened agriculture as well as hydropower generation.