, COLOMBO, October 29 – Around 200 people were reported missing and 10 people confirmed dead after heavy monsoon rains triggered mudslides in a tea growing region of central Sri Lanka on Wednesday, disaster officials said.
“We have reports of 140 houses getting washed away in the mudslides,” Sarath Kumara, a spokesman for the national Disaster Management Centre (DMC), told AFP.
“There are reports that up to 200 people may be missing.”
Kumara said 10 bodies had been recovered by noon after the disaster in the Koslanda region, around 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of the capital Colombo.
Police, security personnel and local volunteers were involved in a major operation to search for survivors at the Meeriyabedda tea plantation, which lies close to a beauty spot famous for its waterfalls, Kumara said.
A local hospital source said that two men and a woman rescued from the mud had been brought in for treatment.
Sections of several national highways had also been washed away by the rains, slowing down the movement of rescue vehicles, officials said.
The disaster struck in an area prone to mudslides and residents had been repeatedly warned to move to safer areas as monsoon rains lashed the tea growing region, the DMC said.
At least 13 people were killed in mudslides in and around the capital Colombo in June.