Sri Lanka floods worsen, toll hits 12

January 10, 2011 (AFP) – Heavy rains lashed Sri Lanka’s central and eastern regions Monday with the death toll from mudslides rising to 12 and 900,000 people driven out of their flooded homes, officials said. The island’s two main monsoon seasons run from May to September and December to February. Military helicopters were deployed to rescue marooned villagers while security forces were distributing food and helping with relief efforts, N.B. Weragama, spokesman for the disaster management centre in Colombo, said.

“Nearly 900,000 people have been affected by heavy flooding,” he added.

Five more bodies were recovered from mudslides during the day after seven people died on Saturday and Sunday.

Schools in the region were closed and transport severely affected.

Sri Lanka depends on monsoon rains for irrigation and power generation, but the seasonal downpours frequently cause deaths and damage to property in low-lying areas.