Weary Sri Lankan medics fight fatigue as casualties mount

KANTALAI, Sri Lanka, Aug 10, 2006 (AFP) – Doctor Iranthi de Silva has worked for 15 hours straight, battling fatigue and stress as casualties in Sri Lanka’s strife-torn northeast mounted Thursday.

A brief lull in the chaotic, makeshift emergency room at the Kantalai Base Hospital allowed her to sit down.

But the distant wailing of an arriving ambulance carrying soldiers wounded in fresh battles with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signalled she would continue working the rest of the day.

“This country has been stressed out the past 20 years,” she said, referring to the Tiger insurgency that has claimed some 60,000 lives.

“I am stressed out,” she added. “I have not slept in a long time, I want to rest, but if more casualties come in today, no way.”
In the past few hours, she has tended to at least three soldiers wounded in fighting near disputed sluice gates at Maalivaru.

The government says it launched a “defensive operation” in the area to prevent Tiger guerrillas from occupying it.
At least 45 soldiers were wounded and three killed in the fresh fighting, adding to an official death toll of more than 440 in the past two weeks.

The small Kantalai Ba