A landslide at a rubbish dump near the Sri Lankan capital Colombo has killed at least 16 people and injured over a dozen, according to health and military officials.
For the second day emergency workers have been digging into the mountain of refuse in the search for survivors in the town of Meetotamulla.
Soldiers have been called in using heavy equipment to move the tonnes of rubbish.
The huge dump collapsed after becoming engulfed by flames late on Friday, the island nation’s traditional new year’s day.
Several hundred people fled their homes as the mound collapsed.
“There was a big noise. We heard people shouting. Houses behind us were coming towards us, they were flying at us. It was like a tsunami. Houses were cracked. My house is buried. Three of my neighbours are buried too. Over 100 homes may have been buried. Only a few people were rescued or taken out. There are more people buried,” said one witness, named as Mohamed.
6 people believed buried inside this house, Army soldiers working tirelessly to find them for more than 2 hours now #lka #Meethotamulla pic.twitter.com/9LZS0LLJLA— Azzam Ameen (@AzzamAmeen) April 15, 2017
Hundreds of people have been put up in nearby schools, the military said.
Residents in the area, mostly living in ramshackle accommodation, have been demanding the removal of the dump saying it was causing health problems.
Sri Lanka’s government said it had planned to get rid of it soon under an infrastructure plan – a promise repeated on Saturday by the prime minister.
The site has been used to dump Colombo’s rubbish as the authorities sought to give the capital a face-lift.
Sri Lanka Government will remove #Meethotamulla Garbage Dump as soon as possible says Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe #LKA #SriLanka pic.twitter.com/6iItdQEBOy— Sri Lanka Tweet (@SriLankaTweet) April 15, 2017