18th April 2017 11:39:27 Hours
A multiplicity of different roles and tasks, now being carried out by Army troops in affected Meetotamulla areas, together with members of sister services, Police and the STF, took a different turn this morning (17) with more focus on the survivors while Army rescue operations are still continuing uninterrupted using heavy machinery.
Rescue operations of the Army in search of any possible survivors continued for another day in worst-affected areas with the support of residents who are well familiar with worst-affected locations in the area where heaps of building debris still stand tall.
Lieutenant General Crisanthe De Silva, Commander of the Army this afternoon (17) again, went to the location and personally inquired into the progress of rescue and relief operations. Major General Ralph Nugera, General Officer Commanding, 14 Division, committed to the conduct of overall operations briefed the Commander on the status quo and pending work.
On a Presidential directive, hundreds of troops, authoritative officials from the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), Survey Department, Divisional Secretariat, Geology Faculty of the University of Peradeniya, Department of Geological Research, National Building Research Organization (NBRO) and its geology and landslide research unit and professionals from other state agencies Monday (17) morning, launched a preliminary assessment project to assess the full extent of damages and potential future threat perceptions in the locations, in close coordination with Colombo Municipal Commissioner as per a directive of HE the President Maithripala Sirisena. Considering the affected area as a ‘Danger Zone,’ the authorities have recommended the relocation of people in 130 more houses, surrounding the garbage dump, it was reported.
Those displaced are currently staying at the Terrence N. De Silva Maha Vidyalaya and authorities have already put up temporary sanitary facilities, drinking water tanks, etc in the school premises.
Two medical teams with two ambulances of the Army Hospital on the directions of the Commander of the Army, have already been put on standby round the clock to meet with any emergency requirements.
Lieutenant General Crisanthe De Silva, Commander of the Army soon after the disaster struck rushed to the affected area Friday (14) afternoon itself and instructed to swiftly launch necessary rescue and relief measures in close coordination with 14 Division troops, commanded by Major General Ralph Nugera, General Officer Commanding, 14 Division. In all past three days, the Commander made several visits to the affected location and attended to immediate requirements of the troops, taking a personal interest.
Troops giving priority attention to rescue of survivors or trapped victims brought down heavy machinery within hours and began evacuating the victims as well as mortal remains under debris after cordoning off most affected locations with the support of security forces and the Police. A special operational cell in the premises records and provides necessary information and data to bereaved families and others with the support of Grama Seva officials and leading citizens.
As of Monday (17) morning more than 1060 tri service personnel are busy in rescue and relief operations with the support of more than 15 excavators, 15 trucks and tippers and other machinery of the tri services and the Municipal Council in close coordination with DMC workforce.
Residents in Nagahamulla, Dahampura, Neelgewatta and Visithunewatta were among worst-affected in the tragedy. Death toll has now risen to 28, including 13 females and an unidentified victim.