Accessibility links

Heavy Floods Kill More Than 140 in Sri Lanka - 2003-05-19

Heavy floods killed more than 140 people in Sri Lanka and left tens of thousands homeless. And rising waters in central and southern China have taken at least 40 lives.

The worst floods in more than half a century have swamped parts of Sri Lanka. Flash floods and landslides over the past few days buried scores of victims in the south-central portion of the island.

Rescuers and relatives have recovered dozens of bodies from wrecked houses, and officials fear the death toll will rise as search efforts continue.

Sri Lanka's government is allocating more than $60,000 for immediate relief efforts and has asked other nations for help.

Neighboring India responded first, dispatching a helicopter along with a naval patrol vessel with medical supplies, rubber rafts, and medical experts. Around 150,000 people have been evacuated from flood zones so far.

Torrential rains also hit central and southern China, killing 40 people and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to crops and homes.

Central China's Hunan province was hardest hit, with dozens of deaths reported, and many more people missing. Rising waters also killed people in Guangdong province in the south, and forced the evacuation of 18,000 people. Flooding also caused serious damage in southeastern Fujian province.

Red Cross officials in Hunan province say this year's spring floods came early and hit hard.

This Red Cross official says experts are out in the field trying to get an accurate assessment of flood victims' needs so officials can begin an appropriate relief effort.

Much of China experiences floods every spring. Last year's death toll was about 1,500, while 4,100 perished in 1998's disastrous flooding season.