Sri Lankan landslides, flooding kills 122, as nation appeals for international help

Sri Lankan landslides, flooding kills 122, as nation appeals for international help

Sri Lankan landslides, flooding kills 122, as nation appeals for international help

Updated 28 May 2017, 12:10 AEST

Dozens of people in Sri Lanka have been killed and almost 100 are still missing, as the country appeals for international help in the face of flooding and landslides caused by its worst torrential rains since 2003.

The number of people known to have been killed in floods and landslides in Sri Lanka has risen to 122, with the country appealing for international assistance.

Key points:

  • More than 415,000 affected by heavy rain that started on Friday
  • Mudslides brought on by deforestation for growth of crops
  • Aid groups ordered to cancel holidays, be on alert for the next three days

The state-run disaster management centre said a further 97 people were still missing after the worst torrential rains since 2003.

The Foreign Ministry said an appeal had been made to the United Nations and neighbouring countries to provide assistance "especially in the areas of search and rescue operations".

India is sending three Navy ships with supplies and other aid, the first of which arrived in Colombo on Saturday.

Officials said deaths were reported from the western coastal district of Kalutara, the central southern district of Ratnapura and the southern district of Matara.

Sri Lankan military and rescue teams have used boats and helicopters, but officials said access to some areas was very difficult.

The early rainy season downpours have forced many families from their homes and affected more than 415,000 people across the nation.

Police spokesman Priyantha Jayakody said multiple landslides were reported in Kalutara, Ratnapura and Matara.

Military spokesman Roshan Senevirathne said more than 2,000 military personnel had been deployed to help the police and civilian agencies.

The wettest time of the year in Sri Lanka's south is usually from May to September.

The island nation also gets heavy rains in the North West monsoonal season from November to February.

Sri Lankan meteorology officials said Thursday's rains were the worst since 2003 and they expected more in the coming days.

Last May, a massive landslide killed more than 100 people in central Sri Lanka.

Reuters