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Terror of new landslides as villagers dig with bare hands for loved ones

May 22 (ST) The weeping sound of an abandoned dog echoed through the mountains in Elangapitiya village in Aranayaka, where mud five feet deep covered three villages. A group of villagers who had fled to safety and returned to find their former homes had disappeared without trace started to dig into the mud with bare hands and sticks, hoping to find people buried alive in the place where the dog was barking. more..

Police come down hard on looters in flood-hit areas

May 22 (SO) Police apprehended 15 persons from various flood-affected areas in the country for suspected looting and stealing valuables from houses evacuated by victims of the recent floods. Following a large number of complaints regarding looting and widespread burglary in areas hit by the recent floods, the police have stepped up action to apprehend those looting houses of flood victims. Authorities engaged in flood relief operations, found that many of the flood-affected victims were more..

Storm costs nation US$ 2 b

May 22 (SO) The Govt is now assessing the economic damage arising from last week’s storm disaster and steps are being taken to ensure that citizens and enterprises incurring losses will be facilitated in their recovery, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told the Sunday Observer last night. He said PM Ranil Wickremesinghe had asked for a full assessment of the cost of the disaster and the action needed for recovery so that the economy could overcome the shock of the disaster. more..

Aranayake landslide tragedy utter Mayhem

May 22 (CT) The fateful story begins on the midnight of 14 May in Aranayake. Heavy rains began to pound the earth. It rained incessantly on 15 and 16 May too. Aranayake mountain stood calm and quiet. No one had any fears about it. Villagers saw it as a guardian protecting them. They never had any suspicions about the hill. So they decided to construct dwellings on the slopes of the hill. more..

1,500 doctors deployed to relief centres

May 22 (CT) Over 1,500 doctors, nurses and other qualified individuals have been deployed at all disaster relief centres to provide sufficient medical attention for all those who are affected by floods and landslides, said Director General of Health Services Dr. Palitha Maheepala. He added "The MoH has already sent mobile teams to all the centres. We have also mobilized 150 ambulances and 77 other vehicles. Also, mobile teams are carrying 83 essential drugs for these patients. more..

Free land rumour creates chaos

May 22 (CT) Heavy congestions have resulted in disaster relief centres in Kegalle District especially in Yatiyantota following rumours to the effect the govt was planning to gift blocks of land in safe locations to landslide and flood victims in these centres. Many potential victims were immediately rushed to safe locations and relief centres after identifying Yatiyantota as a landslide prone area. Relief centres were made available at govt institutions providing continuous food supplies, more..

As floods cause havoc, monsoon from tomorrow

May 22 (ST) The havoc caused by rains, floods and landslides pushed the death toll to 73 last night with 127 people reported missing, the DMC said. However, Police and rescue workers said that the figures would be much higher as search and rescue operations in affected areas continued. Among the developments last evening was the evacuation of residents in plantation areas in the Nuwara Eliya and Kandy districts more..

Mark Vesak on low-key owing to flood situation: Govt

May 22 (ST) This year’s Vesak celebrations will be decidedly low-key in view of the floods that have claimed scores of lives and left over 300,000 displaced. The Govt has also appealed to the public to be mindful of the needs of those who have been affected by the inclement weather that prevailed throughout this week. While the National Vesak Festival in Hambantota is taking place as scheduled, the festival will be limited in scope in view of the current situation. more..

Alternative entry point to OCE from Biyagama mulled

May 22 (SO) Highways Ministry is considering an alternative entry point to the Outer Circulation Expressway (OCE) from the Biyagama side and to open an entry point towards Kadawatha from Kothalawala. This comes in the wake of the inundation of the entry-exit point to the OCE in Kaduwela, Ministry Secretary D.C. Dissanayake said. Floods of this nature had been reported after 28 years. Vehicular traffic entering the expressway from Kaduwela was badly affected. more..

Sampur Coal Project continues despite Modi-Sirisena talks?

May 22 (SL) India’s state-run National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. (NTPC) has not decided to cancel or convert the proposed coal fired 500 MW power plant in Sampur, Trincomalee into a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, a top official said. Trincomalee Power Company Limited Managing Director Praveen Saxena said that they have not received any instructions to suspend coal power project more..

Bad land use in Aranayake led to landslides

May 22 (SO) Excessive clearing of forest and cultivation practices have contributed to making Aranayake and three hillside villages extremely vulnerable to landslides, an expert on landslides said. Director, Landslide Research and Risk Management Division, Senarath Bandara said poor land use is a serious contributor to landslides, though often overlooked. He said the entire region should be mapped and declared as a restricted zone with no human activity being permitted. more..

BOI: No under-age workers

May 22 (SO) Board of Investment enterprises do not employ under-age workers and BOI closely monitors compliance with Labour laws and standards, Board says. In response to last week’s Sunday Observer titled Are labour laws not for FTZ workers, BOI says: “Firstly, BOI enterprises do not employ under-age workers below the age limit prescribed by the laws of the county. Labour Department closely monitors and implements the compliance of Labour Laws by EPZ enterprises. more..

England thump Sri Lanka by an innings

May 22 (CI) Trevor Bayliss is not, by nature, a demonstrative man. But when, after a two-and-a-half hour rain delay on the third afternoon at Headingley, England's coach chose to address the team huddle before the resumption of their afternoon's work, it was clear from his animated expression that his charges' standards hadn't reached the levels he expects in this new full-throttle era. "He was only doing it for the publicity," more..

Attempt by MR group to create rift in UNP

May 22 (SL) An attempt is being made by a group of Parliamentarians supporting former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to create a rift in the UNP. The group had spread rumours last week claiming that a group of UNP members were working against UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Malik Samarawickrema. However, when contacted, UNP sources insisted that there was no rift in the party and that both the seniors and juniors in the party were working well together. more..

Cabinet defers paper on anti-corruption delays

May 22 (SO) The country’s political sphere and its developments were eclipsed by a massive natural disaster this week, which rendered over 200,000 people temporarily homeless, leaving nearly 60 dead and hundreds missing. This was the largest natural disaster to hit the country after the tsunami, which rocked the nation nearly 12 years ago. Although the proportion of the damage could not be compared with that of the tsunami, it affected hundreds of thousands of people more..

Opposition turbulence rocks SriLankan’s House debate

May 22 (ST) A two-day debate on the loss-making national carrier SriLankan Airlines (SLA) was held in Parliament this week. The motion was introduced to the House by UNP MP Nalin Bandara and seconded by UNP MP Ashu Marasinghe. Several MPs spoke during the debate. Following are some of the views expressed by them. Nalin Bandara: SLA was a profit-making institution when it was managed by Emirates Airlines more..

Stolen elephants to be returned to thieves

May 22 (SL) Colombo Chief Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya has ordered officials to return the baby elephants seized over allegations that they were stolen, back to their owners subject to a bond. High level sources in the Wildlife Conservation Department, said that there was an attempt to return 13 baby elephants, that were rescued by wildlife officials from the custody of the accused persons who had possessed the baby elephants by forging fake permits, back to the captors. more..

Aid distribution docked by controversy

May 22 (SL) The distribution of aid to families affected by the extreme weather has been rocked by controversy with some elements collecting the aid and selling them. Several families in Kelaniya said that aid, including clothes and other items, handed out from various contributors had been snatched by drug addicts and others who were looking to use the aid to earn money. Various organizations had last week collected hundreds of items to be distributed among affected families around the country. more..

Armed Forces support flood relief

May 22 (CT) Sri Lanka's Armed Forces played a vital pivotal role in the disastrous floods which followed heavy torrential rains beginning last Sunday which lashed the Western Province and other areas of the country with the Sri Lanka Army rescuing as much as 37,000 people and the Navy, another 21,000 people. The Air Force also provided the backup services providing reconnaissance missions as well. Army has rescued 37,000 more..

CID ASP given illegal promotion

May 22 (SL) An ASP of the CID has been illegally promoted to the rank of SP despite the fact that a fundamental rights violation petition is currently being heard at the Supreme Court. The FR petition is currently being heard at the Supreme Court under SC/FR 81/2011. Petition has been filed regarding an unlawful arrest of a person in 2011 under false accusations. According to the law, no police officer can be granted any promotion when an FR case is being heard against him. more..

Move to cut red tape hampering hub prospects

May 22 (SO) Growth in Sri Lanka’s ports and shipping industry is being hampered by delays in decision-making and negative policy directions. But the govt is now trying to bring a solution by cutting through bureaucracy and working at the Cabinet level to make this country realise its potential as a hub in the Indian Ocean. Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran said the attitude of the state sector is also not investor-friendly, particularly in this sector. more..

Saudi Prince with deep pockets given cold shoulder

May 22 (CT) While others were engaged in an argument on the good and the bad of commemorating war victory on 18 May 2009 and remembering fallen heroes, members of Army, Navy, Air Force and Police commemorated their fallen colleagues in a unique manner by once again coming to the rescue of civilians braving inclement weather. The country was hit by worst ever natural disaster since the tsunami more..

First since Trueman; an average of 4.5

May 22 (CI) 1961: Last time before Anderson an England fast bowler took a ten-wicket haul in a Test at Headingley. Fred Trueman had taken 11 for 88 in the third Ashes Test in 1961. The last such haul by any fast bowler was by Australia's Terry Alderman who took 14 for 151 in the first Ashes Test of 1989. Overall, Anderson's was only the sixth ten-wicket haul by a fast bowler at Headingley. 4.5: James Anderson's bowling average in this Test - the ninth lowest in Test history for a bowler to take more..

24 athletes in Vietnam Asian Junior Meet

May 22 (ST) The 24 member SL Junior Athletics team for the 17th Asian Junior Athletics Championships to be held in Ho Chi Ming, Vietnam from June 2 to 6 will take wing on May 30. There are 17 boys and seven girls in the team. The team was selected after the 54th Junior Nationals Athletics Championships held in Diyagama. Asian Athletics Association is conducting the Vietnam meet and 42 Asian countries are taking part featuring over 1000 athletes. more..

In the club of the Fantastically Corrupt

May 22 (Island) Did David Cameron not know that he had invited the Sri Lankan Head of State to the recent Anti Corruption Summit in London, when told the Queen of only Nigeria and Afghanistan as fantastically corrupt invitee countries? Your guess may be as good as mine. But what is more interesting is to know whether we do belong to that exclusive group of fantastic nations of the world, or not. Going by what we see and more..

The return of the outswing

May 22 (CI) First up in his various interviews, Alastair Cook was keen to point out just how damn well his team had bowled. "Would not like to have battled against them myself," he said. This was dead right and served three purposes. One, to acknowledge his own. Two, to diffuse the almost certain suggestions of Sri Lanka's awfulness and the gulf between good and bad at Test level. Three, to further diffuse any idea that conditions were tailor made for his team. more..

The Eight Precepts, five of which are broken by most

May 22 (SO) In this weekend of Vesak in which this feline cast aside her cattiness and pettiness and devoted one day and night to the observance of the eight precepts, spent time pondering on the vows she had taken to avoid eight situations. While doing this, she could not but help sneering and even snarling in a discreet manner at the way the vows are broken by so many and with so much carefree abandon and don’t-care-two-hoots sort of way. The politicians are adept at classifying more..

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But can we deal with an earthquake ?

May 22 (CT) The Geological Survey and Mines Bureau is of the opinion that Sri Lanka could be seriously classified as being within the 'zone of risk' of earthquake activity because the island straddles the Indo-Australian tectonic plate at a location close to the middle of the plate. The island nation has so far only experienced minor earthquakes hitting 4.2 on the Richter scale and sources hasten to add that there appeared to be no particular medium term danger of a quake. more..

The need for a Disaster Prevention Ministry

May 22 (ST) The floods and the landslides in most parts of the country have put a literal dampener on celebrations to mark Vesak, the month that is significant to Buddhists throughout the world. None celebrate the occasion with such gusto as the Sri Lankans. Nature’s forces are a grim reminder that humanity is at the mercy of such external factors and man can make it worse. In the midst of grandiose plans for a Megapolis in the Western province, thousands of families have been more..

'From PM to ministers everybody must make sacrifices'

May 22 (SL) The present govt is engaged in an attempt to privatise state institutions, JVP MP Vijitha Herath said. Pointing out that present govt, like its predecessor, is not having a proper strategy to rebuild the country, he says that even though everyone starting from the PM, ministers, Chairmen and CEOs should be making sacrifices to rebuild collapsed state institutions, the same things that had taken place in the past are still being done more..

Place emphasis on Pure Dhamma devoid of …isms!

May 22 (DM) Dhamma is a very simple process, which is taking place universally and every moment in every being, which any person can comprehend as soon as it is uncovered of the cloaks of mystery called …isms in which it was surrounded by the attitude, thinking and way of life. This is a time of pretence and falsehood -- hatred and greed rule the roost. Technological progress and digital miracles galore on one side, but lack of regard for beings and life spoil everyone’s hope. more..

Has Vesak lost its real significance?

May 22 (CT) Few, if any, have examined the contemporary social relevance of Vesak in Sri Lanka within the context of the undeniably massive corruption and moral degeneration, NOT FORGETTING THE RACIAL REJECTION BORDERING SUBTLE AND OVERT HATRED SATURATING THE SOCIAL FABRIC OF THE DAY. Vesak, or in the original, Vaishâkha, also, as the Assamese would have it more precisely, The Buddha Purnima meaning more..

A catastrophe calling for new strategies

May 22 (SO) Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said they are now trying to amend the National Building Research Organisation (NBRO) Act and insert a condition that, in future, prior to constructing a house or building NBRO approval should be obtained. However, we don’t want the people inconvenienced, either. We propose to give a time frame for the NBRO and request them to issue the certificate within four weeks. more..

Flood relief is not a one week affair

May 22 (SL) The South West Monsoon lashing the entire island in May is no surprise to any Sri Lankan. Even school children know it is time of squelching shoes, wet uniforms and rain holidays. While our sympathies go out to all those unfortunate victims of these natural disasters brought about by the weather, it has to be admitted that our fore knowledge of this annually impending disaster has not resulted in effective measures of protection being taken. more..

Disaster: predicament and opportunity

May 22 (SO) As you read this column, the storm clouds would still not have gone away from over our emerald isle. They had begun gathering just over a week ago as the satellite pictures in television weather bulletins showed. The view of our skies from space showed the partially circular cloud formation swirling over the entire island. They brought torrential rains – some of the heaviest in decades for this time of the year. The mighty storm has now moved on across the Bay of Bengal more..

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