Sri Lanka rubbish dump collapse kills at least 19

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 April, 2017, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 April, 2017, 10:38pm

The death toll from the collapse of a massive rubbish dump in Colombo has risen to 19 after four children died in hospital overnight from the disaster, authorities said on Saturday.

Colombo National hospital spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa said two boys and two girls were among the 15 people confirmed killed following the incident on Friday. They were aged between 11 and 15.

Soysa said a total of 21 people were taken to hospital from Kolonnawa, where the 91-metre-high rubbish dump crashed onto neighbouring homes as the country celebrated the traditional new year.

“We remain on standby, some people who were pulled out of wrecked homes were brought in overnight,” she said. “Four of them succumbed to their injuries last night.”

Hundreds of troops kept up a search for survivors while two heavy earth moving machines were deployed to clear a path to the worst affected area of the vast dumping ground.

Police said many residents had evacuated their homes before the disaster because heavy rain the previous day had caused rubbish slides and damaged the foundations of many homes.

“We think about 40 homes have been destroyed,” a disaster management official told reporters. “The casualties would have been much higher if most people had not left their homes earlier in the day.”

About 800 tonnes of solid waste is added daily to the open dump, angering residents who live nearby.

Sri Lanka’s parliament was warned recently that the 23 million tonnes of rubbish rotting at Kolonnawa was a serious health hazard.

Efforts are underway to build an electricity plant that could transform the solid waste into fuel.