Receding flood water raises threat of unexploded mines in SL

The receding flood waters in eastern Sri Lanka are posing a new threat of unexploded mines planted during the war with the LTTE as they may have shifted during recent floods, officials said.

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2011, 16:25 PM IST

Colombo: The receding flood waters in
eastern Sri Lanka are posing a new threat of unexploded mines
planted during the war with the LTTE as they may have shifted
during recent floods, officials said.

UN agencies and the military have warned the people
returning home after the devastating floods to be wary of
mines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) when the waters
recede.

Once the battle field of the Sri Lankan war, the
eastern province was the worst affected during recent floods
that affected more than a million people.

"Floods and receding waters may unearth mines and ERW
and carry explosives from contaminated areas into areas
thought to be safe," United Nations Office for Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in their report on the flood
situation.

"Regional Mine Action Centres are assessing the need
to re-survey areas that are potentially affected by mines/ERW
shifted by flooding," the OCHA said.

Sri Lanka Army has also issued instructions to
military installations in the flood-affected areas to issue
warnings to both government officials and flood victims on
possible threat of mines as a result of flood.

At least 37 persons were killed and another 12 gone
missing in Sri Lankan flood which left more than 300,000
homeless, officials said.

State-run weekly the Sunday Observer said the
estimated cost of the flood is around USD 500 million.

Sri Lankan officials earlier said the damage caused to
the infrastructure and facilities was only second to the
tsunami catastrophe in 2004 which claimed more than 30,000
lives.

India, United States and the European Union have
provided assistance to flood victims while UN agencies and
INGOs also provide relief.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan mobile phone operators have
started a campaign to assist a million flood victims by
generating money via SMS text messages.

At least three mobile companies have asked their
subscribers to donate Rs 10 sending an SMS to them.

The companies say they will also add Rs 10 each for
every message they will receive.

Sri Lanka, one of the earliest among nations to
introduce mobile communications in South Asia as far back as
1989, has more than 15 million subscribers out of a total
population of 20 million.

PTI