January 12, 2011 (AFP) – At least 18 people have died and nearly one million have been made homeless by flooding in Sri Lanka after days of heavy rains, officials said Wednesday. Central and eastern regions of the island have been worst hit by the monsoon rains, with frequent mudslides and rising water levels.
Continuing bad weather forced President Mahinda Rajapakse to abandon a tour of flood-affected areas.
Many schools remained shut with the military deployed to rescue marooned villages and help distribute food, clothes, bedding and water, a spokesman for the Disaster Management Centre in Colombo told AFP.
Floods have also disrupted food supplies, with wholesale prices of vegetables rising sharply.
Sri Lanka depends on monsoon rains for irrigation and power generation, but the seasonal downpours frequently cause death and damage to property in low-lying areas. The island’s two main monsoon seasons run from May to September and December to February.