Sri Lanka rubbish dump landslide death toll rises to 16

Reuters | Published: 15:25, Apr 15,2017

Sri Lanka, garbage dump collapse

Members of the military carry a body during a rescue mission after a garbage dump collapsed and buried dozens of houses in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 15, 2017. — Reuters photo

A rubbish dump landslide in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo killed at least 16 and injured over a dozen, military spokesman and hospital officials said on Saturday, as emergency workers dug into the mountain of trash in search of survivors.

The estimated 300-foot (91 metre) dump collapsed after flames engulfed it late on Friday, the island nation's traditional new year's day, and witnesses said around 100 houses could have been buried.

The death toll rose to 16 as more bodies were discovered on Saturday, army spokesman Roshan Senivirathna said. At least four teenagers were among the dead, a nurse at the main Colombo hospital told Reuters.

‘We heard a massive sound. It was like thunder. Tiles in our house got cracked. Black water started coming in,’ said Kularathna, who lives near the dump.

‘We tried to get out but we were trapped inside. We shouted for help and were rescued later.’

Another resident, Mohamed, said three of his neighbours were missing and estimated that more than 100 people could have been buried.

Rescue operations continued for a second day on Saturday with soldiers using heavy equipment to remove the garbage.

Police said about 145 houses had been damaged, but they did not say how many had been buried.

Residents of the area, mostly living in shanties, have been demanding the removal of the dump saying it was causing health issues. The government had planned to remove it soon under an infrastructure plan.

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