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Death toll in Sri Lanka flooding, mudslides tops 200

By Ed Adamczyk
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Residents of Bulathsinhala, Sri Lanka, a town 50 miles away from the capital of Colombo, walk through streets on Sunday. The country's Disaster Management Center said 202 people died in floods and mudslides, prompted by an early-season monsoon. Photo by M.A. Pushpa Kumara/EPA
Residents of Bulathsinhala, Sri Lanka, a town 50 miles away from the capital of Colombo, walk through streets on Sunday. The country's Disaster Management Center said 202 people died in floods and mudslides, prompted by an early-season monsoon. Photo by M.A. Pushpa Kumara/EPA

May 31 (UPI) -- As waters recede in Sri Lanka, the country's disaster management agency said Wednesday the death toll from flooding and mudslides has topped more than 200.

The Disaster Management Center reported 202 people died and 94 were still missing after an early-season monsoon struck the island nation off India's eastern coast last week. On Monday it was reported that nearly a half million people were displaced by the flooding, the worst on the island since 2003.

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Overflowing rivers were the cause of most of the damage, the Indian Express said. Mudslides are increasingly common on the island since forests have been cleared to grow export products, notably tea and rubber.

Rainfall ended on Wednesday afternoon, prompting receding water levels in Sri Lankan rivers, Irrigation Department Director P. Hettiarachchi reported. With clearing weather, more than 100,000 of 180,000 people evacuated earlier in the week returned to their homes.

The Sri Lankan army reported that more than 1,000 of its troops rained in disaster management were dispatched across the country to clear debris and rebuild roads. The government is sending dry rations, establishing health clinics and purifying wells.

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India, Pakistan and China have sent relief ships containing emergency supplies to Sri Lankan ports after a call for international assistance.

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