200 families missing in Sri Lanka landslide

A massive landslide, triggered by torrential rains, has buried homes in three villages in the central hills of Sri Lanka.

Two hundred families are missing and feared buried under the mud and debris, the Sri Lankan Red Cross said.

Sixteen bodies have been recovered and 180 people have been rescued from the enormous piles of mud, which slid at 5pm on Tuesday, says military spokesman, Brig. Jayanath Jayaweera.

Three hundred soldiers are searching for survivors in the villages of Siripura, Pallebage, and Elagipitya, in Kegalle District, 72km north of Colombo.

Heavy fog and continuing rain, along with electricity outages and the instability of the ground, are complicating the rescue.

State broadcaster, Rupavahini, showed images of huge mounds of earth covering houses, while torrents of muddy water gushed from hilltops above.

Villagers said 66 houses had been buried or damaged. One thousand one hundred and forty people who escaped are sheltering, and being treated for minor injuries, at a nearby school and at a Buddhist temple, says government official, Mahendra Jagath.

The same rains have also caused severe flooding in cities, including Colombo, the capital.


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