10 dead, more than 250 missing in mudslide
KOSLANDA (AP): A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buried scores of workers' houses at a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka yesterday, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, an official said.
The military mobilised troops to help with the rescue operation as rain continued to fall in the island nation's central hills. Mud covered some of the destroyed homes to their roofs, and water gushing down hillsides indicated more slides were possible.
P. Arumugam, who works as a driver on the plantation, said he rushed there when he heard about the mudslide.
"Everything that I saw yesterday I could not see today, buildings, the temple and shops had all disappeared. I could only see mud everywhere," he said.
The mudslide struck at around 7:30 a.m. and wiped out 120 workers' homes at the Koslanda tea plantation, said Lal Sarath Kumara, an official from the Disaster Management Center. The plantation is in the town of Koslanda in Badulla district about 220 kilometres (140 miles) east of Colombo.
By early afternoon, rescue workers had recovered 10 bodies that had been buried by the mudslide, Kumara said. More than 250 other people were missing, he said, a figure calculated after information was gathered from residents and relatives.
Marimuttu Navaneethan, a 28-year-old shopkeeper, said he heard a big noise and saw mud rolling down towards his home.
He and his family ran from the house, which was soon mostly covered by the mudslide. He said 65 other nearby houses were completely covered.