On Tuesday, May 17, three villages in a hill in Kegalle District, about 72 kilometers (45 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka, were hit by massive landslides, with hundreds of families reported missing. Rescuers have recovered 17 bodies from the mud and debris, bringing the death toll to more than 40 by Wednesday. The Sri Lankan Red Cross said that more families were unaccounted for.
Heavy rains and storms have been creating havoc in central Sri Lanka. May is usually the rainiest month in the South Asian country, with an average of around 382 millimeters. This past Sunday, however, saw around 305 millimeters of rain alone. A tropical depression is aggravating the situation. Recent floods have displaced around 100,000 families.
— Vajira Sumedha (@vajirasumeda) May 18, 2016
Images of mother nature's destruction made the rounds online. New media site Roar Lanka posted some powerful images of the deadly landslide, while on website Yamu writer Shifani published shots of flooding that happened across Sri Lanka.
Blogger Indi Samarajiva explained in a post on Yamu why there has been rain in Sri Lanka incessantly:
Why is it raining so much? This is the Yala Intermonsoon. Honestly, we should just call it the monsoon but the term is more defined by when the rains hit India. Sri Lanka gets it in between.
The blogger also informed that forecasts predict the rainfall will decrease over the coming weekend.
Meanwhile, many are posting updates on Twitter:
— Farhaan Nizamdeen (@greatgalle) May 18, 2016
— M.RISHAN SHAREEF (@Rishan_s) May 18, 2016
There are many user-generated videos of the floods uploaded to different social media platforms. Here is a video published on YouTube by Trufriend:
Some expressed frustration at the lack of attention the issue was getting in worldwide media:
— Ahamed Sizan (@barfigas) May 18, 2016
While others were in awe of how quickly the situation can change:
— Amantha (@AmanthaP) May 18, 2016
Many Facebook users across the world were surprised to learn about the Sri Lankan floods after they were notified of their friends or acquaintances marking themselves safe using the newly activated Facebook Safety Check feature:
my friend just marked herself as safe on fb during a flood in srilanka… is there currently a flood in srilanka? 😱
— fn (@tabiyong) May 18, 2016
Cassandra Doole at Roar Lanka posted information about emergency contacts and relief efforts.
Maithripala Sirisena, the president of Sri Lanka, who has close to a million Facebook follower, urged those who need help to report their situation to authorities by phoning the Government Information Center:
If you are a victim of the prevailing adverse weather condition, and hasn't been given any assistance even after contacting a government official, inform ‘Tell the President’ through 1919 as soon as possible.