Sri Lanka struggles amid 'worst natural disaster since Boxing Day tsunami'

Flooding across Sri Lanka is the worst natural disaster to hit the country since the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, the President of Gospel for Asia has warned.

K P Yohannan said many people had been left without basic necessities after torrential rain hit the island for more than a week.

“This is the worst flooding to hit the country since the Asian tsunami devastated Sri Lanka in 2004,” he said. “They had absolutely no warning that this huge storm was on the way. It took them totally by surprise.

“Their homes are flooded and they’ve lost everything. The children don’t have any clean clothes to wear and their schoolbooks have been destroyed.”

Lal Vanderwal, GFA’s country leader in Sri Lanka, reports that entire villages are under water. Gospel for Asia churches are among the buildings damaged by the floods.

According to Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Centre, some 600,000 people have been displaced by the flooding, which comes just days before the monsoon season is due to begin.

Gospel for Asia said many of those affected are poor people living in low-lying areas and shanty-type structures that are unable to withstand the force of the rain or fast-moving flood water.

GFA’s Compassion Services teams, drawn from more than 100 Sri-Lankan churches, have been called upon to help by government officials. They are providing emergency medical care, food, clean water, shelter and clothing to victims.

Once floodwaters have subsided the teams will work on long-term recovery, including cleaning out contaminated water wells and rebuilding homes.

Dr Yohannan said, “We have months and months of work ahead of us.”