Death toll due to garbage dump rises to 29; 30 still missing

The collapse occurred as many people were marking Aluth Avurudda, or the Sinhalese New Year, a major public holiday across Sri Lanka.

The military said 1,000 security personnel, including police and special task forces, have been deployed for rescue operation.

Wickremesinghe said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had offered help with the recovery effort and a technical team would be sent to Sri Lanka to evaluate the situation.

President Maithripala Sirisena meeting with relevant ministers and officials yesterday said the government will take every possible step to fulfill all relief measures for the affected people and assured that there will not be shortage of money for the implementation of relief programs. They were speaking to survivors to determine how many were missing, he said.

Mr De Silva said residents had been advised to leave because of the risk of landslides.

Police were investigating whether the collapse of the 91 -metre open garbage pile could be a sabotage.

More than 600 people have fled their homes.

"We are keeping up a search, but we are not very hopeful of finding anyone alive in these conditions", military spokesman Roshan Seneviratne said on Monday. The mountain of garbage caught fire and collapsed on dozens of slums as the residents were celebrating the traditional New Year on Friday.

Police said the true scale of the damage remained unclear.

In other parts of the dump officials were mapping places that can slide and identifying families that need to be evacuated. As the garbage piled up, the growing mound began threatening the tiny homes nearby, prompting residents to stage regular protests while complaining of health hazards.

"This is a government-made disaster", he said.

Locals reportedly blocked politicians from visiting the site of the disaster.

Despite repeated calls to close the dump by locals, the authorities continued to add an estimated 800 tons of waste per day until last week.

  • Leroy Wright