Colombo: Powerful storms with heavy rains have killed at least 13 people in Sri Lanka, as a strong cyclone, which has wreaked havoc in southern India and posed threat to it, moved away from the island nation today. The severe weather conditions started on Wednesday night as gusty winds and rains battered parts of the country, and have so far affected more than 77,000 people, officials said.
Power supply, essential services and air traffic was disrupted in the stormy weather that left several buildings damaged and trees uprooted in its wake. Five people have been reported "missing" and at least 13 people killed since Wednesday night due to rains and storm, the police said. The Ambalangoda region in southern Sri Lanka has recorded the maximum number of these deaths at four, they said.
According to the police, around 4,000 people were being housed in temporary relief camps in Ambalangoda. The high winds and persistent rains which hit the island nation on Wednesday later developed into cyclone 'Ockhi', which has affected parts in southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and caused loss to life and property.
Sri Lanka's department of meteorology today announced that 'Ockhi' is now located some 850-km to the west of the island and is moving further away. "Hence its effect for the country is expected to be lessen gradually," it said in a statement.
The department said "fairly heavy rains" or thundershowers were expected later today in Western, Sabaragamuwa and Central provinces, while "strong gusty winds" in Ratnapura, Kaluthara and Galle districts. Addressing Parliament on Thursday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said that he had directed officials to pay each family affected by bad weather rupees 10,000 as emergency assistance. The military was also deployed to assist in the rescue and recovery operations in the wake of the severe weather conditions. (PTI)