Garbage dump landslide kills 10, buries 40 houses in Sri Lanka

Lara Rebello
Sri Lanka

At least 10 people have been killed in a landslide of trash in Sri Lanka on 14 April. A massive garbage dump in the capital city of Colombo collapsed after a fire broke out at the top of the 91-metre-high mountain of rubbish.

Fire fighters rushed to the site in Meethotamulla and began digging through the trash to rescue those buried, as others fought to contain the blaze. Among the dead are six women and four men, the police said. Colombo National Hospital spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa informed that a 12-year-old boy and two girls aged 14 and 15 died from their injuries while at least three of the other victims were pronounced dead when their bodies were pulled out from under the wreckage.

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According to officials, heavy rain the previous night made the 23 million-tonne pile-up unstable and compounded with the fire, was responsible for the landslide. Along with the loss of lives, around 40 houses in the area were also buried.

"It is too early and still we can't say how many houses are damaged or destroyed and how many people affected," Pradeep Kodippili, Disaster Management Centre spokesman said according to Al Jazeera. Officials are estimating that between 40 and 100 brick-and-mortar homes may have been affected.

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The incident took place on the traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year, and it is expected that most of the residents were at home with their families.

Hundreds of tri service personnel, policemen and Special Task Force (STF) personnel have been deployed to the area to help in relief operations.

The landslide has drawn attention to numerous previous requests made by residents to the government to remove the trash site since it was causing health issues.

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