Sri Lankan soldiers and rescue workers raced Sunday to find people trapped after a mountain of garbage came crashing down on homes near the nation's capital.
Military spokesman Roshan Seneviratne said 26 deaths have been reported so far, and military personnel were still searching the site in Meetotamulla, a town outside Colombo. They were speaking to survivors to determine how many were missing, he said.
The mound collapsed Friday evening as people were celebrating the local new year. Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, who is heading the rescue efforts, said 78 houses were destroyed and more than 150 were damaged.
Police have launched a probe to ascertain whether the collapse was a natural calamity or an act of sabotage.
The site has been used to dump Colombo's garbage for the past few years as authorities sought to give the capital a facelift. But residents living in tiny homes in the area have protested against all the waste being dumped there because of health hazards.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Saturday that the government will soon remove the garbage dump.