While the nation celebrated its New Year’s Day, a massive 300 feet high dump of rubbish collapsed in Colombo, Srilanka in a place known as Meetotamulla on Friday- April 15th, 2017, hours earlier to which it had caught fire, followed by rain.
According to the witnesses, almost 100 people could have been buried deep under the mess. One of the survivors- Kularathna, while talking to the media said:
“We heard a massive sound. It was like thunder. Tiles in our house got cracked. Black water started coming in. We tried to get out but we were trapped inside. We shouted for help and were rescued later.”
Mohamed, a resident of the area said that three of his neighbors; an elderly man, his daughter, and her granddaughter were still missing. Upon being inquired, the residents of the vicinity told that the dump has been causing them health problems and that they have been asking for its elimination. It was supposed to be removed by the government, under their plan of infrastructure.
The workers started the search mission at 6 am, with a military official- Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe leading the team, to look for any survivors. Sudantha Ranasinghe said:
“The main obstacle is we don’t have a clear idea of how many people are buried as nobody is claiming that their relatives are missing, unlike on previous occasions. We don’t have any deadline and we will continue until we clear everything.”
He also said that they were asking the survivors about their missing relatives to determine the number of missing people. According to him, almost 78 houses got destroyed and more than 150 got damaged.
According to the reports, the death toll has reached to 23, in addition to the gigantic destruction of 145 houses due to the incident.
A senior office of Police said:
“The rescue is fast becoming a recovery operation. It is difficult to imagine anyone could survive under these toxic conditions.”
Twelve people who were injured remained hospitalized. Among the 26 people who died, the Colombo National hospital stated inclusion of four children, who were 11 to 15 years of age. A woman and man who got dragged out from the rubble are still in the intensive care.
The Prime Minister- Ranil Wickremesinghe said that arrangements were already made to remove the dump, but before any measures could be performed, the rubbish crashed down. He also offered services for recovery and a technical team to assess the condition.
A shelter at a government-run school has also been provided temporarily to over 600 people so that the authorities can look for an alternative residency for the residents of that area. Efforts are also under way for generating electricity by using the solid waste for fuel. The belongings of the victims are also been salvaged by the rescue workers.
The cause of the dump collapsing is still under investigation by the police, to find out if it was a natural occurrence or caused by or individual activity.
Despite all the suffering, almost 18 suspects were arrested by the police for robbing the possessions of the victims that got embedded under the dump. The search operation finally stopped on Saturday.