Sri Lanka Grapples with Monsoon Devastation: 14 Lives Lost, Schools Closed

Colombo – Sri Lanka is reeling from the devastating impact of monsoon storms, with flash floods, mudslides, and falling trees claiming at least 14 lives, as reported by the country’s disaster center on June 2.

Tragically, the toll includes three members of the same family who were swept away near the capital Colombo, adding to the grim statistics of those lost to the natural calamity. Among the victims were an 11-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man, buried alive in mudslides, highlighting the indiscriminate nature of the disaster.

Additionally, nine individuals lost their lives due to falling trees in seven districts, reflecting the widespread destruction wrought by the intensified monsoon since May 21.

While Sri Lanka traditionally relies on the seasonal monsoon for irrigation and hydroelectricity, the recent spate of disasters underscores the increasing vulnerability to extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change. With heavy rain affecting 20 out of 25 districts, authorities have issued warnings urging residents living along main riverbanks to seek higher ground for safety.

The havoc caused by the monsoon extends beyond loss of life, disrupting transportation and daily life. Flights at Colombo’s main international airport were diverted, and key highways were inundated, impeding travel and commerce.

In response to the ongoing crisis, the government has ordered the closure of all schools on June 3, following the weekend holiday, in anticipation of further rainfall. The Disaster Management Centre (DMC) issued a cautionary statement, warning of the possibility of continued heavy rain accompanied by strong winds and thunder.

The recent tragedy adds to the sorrow of Sri Lanka, compounded by the loss of seven young elephants who drowned in floodwaters last week. The incident, described as the largest single loss of elephants in five years, occurred in Dimbulagala, northeast of Colombo, as the south-west monsoon inundated the elephants’ habitat.

As Sri Lanka grapples with the aftermath of this natural disaster, the resilience of its people and the urgency of climate adaptation measures are underscored, signaling a pressing need for concerted action to mitigate the impact of extreme weather events.