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Sri Lanka Mudslide Kills 25; 42 Missing05/26 05:45

   Floods and mudslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains in western and 
southern Sri Lanka left at least 25 dead and 42 missing, the government said 
Friday.

   COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) -- Floods and mudslides triggered by heavy monsoon 
rains in western and southern Sri Lanka left at least 25 dead and 42 missing, 
the government said Friday.

   The Disaster Management Center said that more than 7,800 persons are 
affected by the calamity.

   Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardana told reporters that the adverse 
weather conditions could escalate. The government advised people living closer 
to rivers and areas prone to landslides to evacuate, he said.

   Government workers have had their leaves canceled, he said, adding that he 
had asked rescue and aid organizations to stay alert for the next 72 hours.

   Heavy rains have lashed several parts of the country since Thursday, 
inundating roads and houses. Authorities closed all schools in the Sabaragamuwa 
province, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) east of Colombo due to the rains and 
floods. Heavy flooding also was reported in the country's south.

   The country's navy deployed more than 100 sailors and 20 boats to rescue and 
help the affected people. The air force also sent helicopters and planes to 
rescue the marooned and provide emergency relief.

   Mudslides are common during the monsoon season in the Indian Ocean tropical 
island. Much of Sri Lanka has been heavily deforested for export crops such as 
tea and rubber, leaving the countryside exposed.

   In May last year, more than 100 people died when they were buried in a 
massive landslide in central Sri Lanka.


(KA)

 
 
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