Dozens still missing in Sri Lankan garbage collapse; 30 dead


MEETOTAMULLA, Sri Lanka — Rescuers on Monday were digging through heaps of mud and trash that collapsed onto a clutch of homes near a garbage dump outside Sri Lanka’s capital, killing at least 30 people and possibly burying dozens more.

Hundreds of people had been living in the working-class neighborhood on the fringe of the towering dump in Meetotamulla, a town near Colombo, when a huge mound collapsed Friday night during a celebration for the local new year, damaging at least 150 homes.

By Monday morning, authorities had pulled the bodies from beneath the debris, according to a Disaster Management Center report. Authorities were unsure how many more people could still be trapped, with contradictory reports being released. They announced 30 people were missing Monday but later reduced the number to 11.

Disaster Management Center spokesman Pradeep Kodippili said the number was reduced after adjusting names that had been entered on the list of dead as well as missing.

Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake said the number of people could be between six and 10.

Soldiers were digging with backhoes and shovels, as relatives of the missing pointed out where their houses once stood amid coconut, mango and banana trees.

Those homes now lay in piles of collapsed concrete walls encased in a wall of mud up to 8 meters (25 feet) high and mixed with plastic bags, broken glass and other trash. Bicycles and auto-rickshaws, the three-wheeled vehicles used as local taxis, were crushed or lying topsy-turvy.

In other parts of the dump officials were mapping places that can slide and identifying families that need to be evacuated.

More than 600 of the area’s residents were sheltering in nearby schools, while 11 people were being treated at a hospital for injuries.

One auto-rickshaw driver described a narrow escape. He was returning home with his wife, two sons …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

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