Death toll in Sri Lanka garbage mound collapse rises to 27

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 19, 2017

Soldiers and rescuers worked tirelessly on Monday to find survivors after a towering garbage dump in the Kolonnawa suburb collapsed on Friday, killing at least 29 people. At least 30 others are still missing, it added.

This is the first such tragedy to hit Sri Lanka.

However, activist group "Decent Lanka 2015" said ad hoc compensation and relocation was not the answer to a festering problem.

RMS Bandara, a top building research official, explained the incidents leading to the mishap.

The number of deaths reported due to the collapse of a part of the Meethotamulla garbage dump, had increased to 28 today, the Police said.

"There is a land of 21 acres here covered with garbage piled over the years". Military personnel were still searching the site and speaking to survivors to determine how many were missing.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Harsha De Silva said the military is looking for those who might be still trapped under the dump.

Police have launched a probe to ascertain whether the collapse was a natural calamity or an act of sabotage. A 10-member team of geologists, officials from mining and excavation divisions, have been sent to the spot.

Many residents had evacuated their homes before the disaster because of the heavy rain.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in a statement has apologised for the delay in relocating the garbage dump. He said the state will bear the funeral expenses of the dead.

The collapse occurred as many people were marking Aluth Avurudda, or the Sinhalese New Year, a major public holiday across Sri Lanka.

"Many say this could have been prevented if authorities had seen the scale of the disaster", Al Jazeera's Fernandez said. Over 400 troops were deployed to rescue the slum dwellers adjacent to the 300-foot garbage dump at Meethotamulla in Kolonnawa, a suburb north of Colombo.

Despite repeated calls to close the dump by locals, the authorities continued to add an estimated 800 tons of waste per day until last week.

Locals reportedly blocked politicians from visiting the site of the disaster.

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