Colombo: At least 14 people were killed and around 300 others are missing in a landslide in central Sri Lanka Wednesday as President Mahinda Rajapaksa directed the government to fully support rescue efforts.
Rajapaksa has instructed the ministry of disaster management, the army and provincial authorities to assist in the rescue operations in the landslide that has dislodged as many as 120 houses, Xinhua reported citing a stament issued by the President's Office.
Fourteen bodies are reported to have been pulled from the massive landslide in central Sri Lanka but authorities have warned as many as 300 people remain missing. An earlier report said 18 bodies had been recovered.
The landslide smashed into a row of plantation homes in a mountainous area in the central town of Haldummulla in the Badulla district in the early hours of Wednesday.
The area is still under landslide threat with additional mounds of earth making rescue efforts difficult.
If rains resume, relief personnel are likely to pull out of the area, media reported.
"Fourteen bodies have been recovered from the site, including the body of a priest at a Hindu temple that was swept away in the landslide," confirmed police spokesman Ajith Rohana to local media.
He added that tourists or foreigners have not been harmed in the landslide.
The rescue mission is under way with the aid of police, army and the state-run Disaster Management Centre (DMC).
Though the rescue mission is underway with the help of villages in a bid to find any survivors under the mountain of mud, according to the officials the probability of finding anyone alive is unlikely given the scale of the disaster.
Air force spokesperson Gihan Seneviratne said that a Bell 212 rescue helicopter has been deployed for the rescue operations.
A team representing the Landslide Research and Risk Management Division has too headed to the scene, it was reported.
Rains have stopped for the time being but additional landslides are a possibility, local authorities have reported.
Earlier Wednesday, Security Forces Headquarters (Central) Commander, Maj. Gen. Mano Perera said that the security forces were involved in a massive rescue operation.
Some houses were buried in over 30 feet of mud following heavy rain in the area the previous night.