Sri Lankan tsunami survivors split over disaster aid, policies

TELEWATTA, AFP – A concrete pole in a coconut grove in this southern Sri Lankan town has determined, to some extent at least, how tsunami survivors will vote in Thursday’s presidential poll. TELEWATTA, AFP – A concrete pole in a coconut grove in this southern Sri Lankan town has determined, to some extent at least, how tsunami survivors will vote in Thursday’s presidential poll. Most whose whose ravaged homes fall on the seaward side of the pole will be marking their crosses for opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, those on the inland side for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse.

The pole marks the limit of the 100-meter (yard) building-free buffer zone the government declared soon after the December 26 tsunami devastated Sri Lankan shores and killed more than 31,000 people.

While in many tsunami-battered areas the demarcation line remains blurred, in Telewatta, where the giant waves up-ended a train killing more than 1,000 people, the building curbs have been strictly enforced.

Reconstruction has been going well for Athula Mendis, 44, with his new three-bedroom home already at roof height.

Meanwhile he and his family of six are staying on the property in a wood and iron s