Koslanda Landslide: Questions raised on body count and safe locations (Watch Report)

Koslanda Landslide: Questions raised on body count and safe locations (Watch Report)

Written by News 1st

03 Nov, 2014 | 9:27 pm

Figures relating to the number of dead and missing following the Miriyabedda, Koslanda landslide remain obscure. Various factions expressed views on this matter on Monday as well.

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Speaking in this regard, Minister of Disaster Management Mahinda Amaraweera said:

[quote]The bodies of eight people have been recovered as of Monday. Several body parts have been found but these are not complete. They say it is eight and a half. The bodies of eight people have been recovered and 31 persons have been registered as missing. There can be minor fluctuations. Why? One reason is that we are still expecting that some people who lived here may suddenly turn up from Colombo or from some other area. Nevertheless, we believe that the total number is 45. Another matter that has drawn serious attention is the number of children who have been orphaned. Three (3) children have lost both parents. Four (4) children have lost their mothers. Sixty-Three (63) homes have been damaged. Six (6) line rooms and three official residences have been lost. Additionally two shops, a milk collection centre and a kovil were buried.[/quote]

The Disaster Management Centre has constantly highlighted the fact that warnings were issued for people to evacuate this area in 2005 and 2011, due to the risk of landslides.

However, what steps were taken following the issuing of the warnings?

Assistant Director of Disaster Management Centre, Nimal Bandara:

[quote]The day before the incident, the DMC, NBRO and all local authorities went there and informed them that if there are cracks they should leave. Some people left and came back in the morning. They had been told to leave the area and this situation has arisen because they disregarded that message.[/quote]

UNP Media Spokesperson, MP Gayantha Karunathilake:

[quote]Although the government says that the people in the Koslanda area were warned in 2005 and 2011, the people in the area say that they were not warned and that they did not receive housing anywhere else. We call on the government to immediately conduct an inquiry into this parallel to the relief effort. We call on the government to appoint a commission that is empowered to implement recommendations. It would be pointless to appoint false committees to stall for time as they do in other matters.[/quote]

Minister of Disaster Management, Mahinda Amaraweera:

[quote]They had been informed and landslide warnings have been issued. You would have seen the announcements that have been made over the past several days over the risk in several districts. We have told those people where they need to go when there is excessive rain. They have been told to go to the Tamil College. We have named safe locations for them to go to in these instances.[/quote]

Speaking on the issue, a resident said:

[quote]Some people have been given land adjacent to where the landslide occurred. If a landslide is possible here; then a landslide is possible there too. That is why nobody wanted to go there. We would have gone if land was given elsewhere.[/quote]

What steps is the state taking now for the people who lost everything, including their lives?

Security Forces Commander – Central, Major General Mano Perera:

[quote]The situation at relief centres has changed. We are attempting to take the 297 people from 57 families who have been displaced at the Miriyabedda village to another location and from there to the Punagala camp until we can build housing for them and relocate them.[/quote]

Divisional Secretary of Bandarawela, E.M.S.B. Jayasundera:

[quote]We have identified the 250 people from 50 families who have been affected. We are establishing a separate camp for them and after we find a safe location we will take steps to build homes for them.[/quote]

Minister of Disaster Management, Mahinda Amaraweera:

[quote]The estate authorities are not giving them housing in safe locations. When they are asked to provide land, they provide land in areas where homes cannot be built. We first wish to request the management of these estates to provide lands to build homes for these people. We believe we are now at a level where we can resolve this amicably. If this does not happen, then we will take steps to acquisition (acquire) the land if needed to build safe homes for these people.[/quote]

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