Sri Lanka says finding survivors among 99 missing in mudslides doubtful

AGALAWATTE, Sri Lanka >> Sri Lanka’s military said Saturday that it is doubtful any missing people will be found alive two days after torrents of mud triggered by heavy rain covered homes in southern and western parts of the country, killing 100 people and leaving 99 others missing.

The Disaster Management Center said more than 27,000 people have been displaced by the landslides.

“I have my doubts” that any survivors will be found, said army Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe, who is heading the search and rescue mission. He said that mounds of earth and rocks crashed down in such a way that people could hardly survive, and that most of the affected places were still inundated.

“In landslides, it’s difficult to find survivors after two days, and today is the second day,” Ranasinghe said.

The army, navy and air force were continuing to try to reach marooned villagers and evacuate those living in areas prone to mudslides, he said.

There were still difficulties in reaching some areas to deliver emergency aid and the air force has been lowering supplies from the air.

An airman died after falling while trying to get a villager into a helicopter, Ranasinghe said.

The military used large armored vehicles and boats to transport people to safety. But some remained trapped in interior villages where boats have been unable to reach.

At an intersection close to Agalawatte, 98 kilometers (60 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, four bodies in coffins were…

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