Sri Lanka confirms at least 10 dead in mudslide

AP News
Posted: Nov 04, 2014 10:07 AM

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka confirmed Tuesday that at least 10 people died and 28 are still missing from a mudslide at a tea plantation last week, as officials began using voting and school records to count how many more people may be buried under the mud.

The Disaster Management Center said 1,755 people remain in temporary shelters because their homes were destroyed or made unsafe by last Wednesday's disaster at the Koslanda plantation in Badulla district, about 140 miles (220 kilometers) east of Colombo.

Officials initially reported that more than 250 people were buried under the mud but reduced the number drastically. The government has not explained the discrepancy.

Authorities, meanwhile, extended landslide warnings in six other mountainous districts as heavy rain continued in most parts of the country.

Also Tuesday, a group of tea plantation workers protested against what they described as negligence by government authorities because the mudslide-affected area had been identified as vulnerable years ago. They also lit candles and paid their respects to the dead.

Sri Lanka, formerly called Ceylon, is one of the world's leading tea producers. Most tea plantation workers continue to live on risky slopes in dilapidated one-room houses built by British colonial rulers more than a century ago.