Death toll reaches 146 more rain expected this week

The Government meanwhile said schools in the affected areas will remain closed this week. The United Nations office in Colombo said that Sri Lanka had made a formal request for support following the onset of the monsoon and its impact in the Southern and Western regions of the country.The adverse weather conditions have caused flooding and landslides in 14 out of 25 district in Sri Lanka; Batticaloa, Colombo, Galle, Gampaha, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matale, Matara, Mulaitivu, Ratnapura, Trincomalee and Vavuniya. The most severely impacted district is Galle, where 128,047 people (32,215 families) have reportedly been affected. Fatalities have been reported in Gampaha, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura districts.The Tri-Forces and Police have been mobilized for Search and Rescue and evacuations operations in Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara and Matara districts.UN agencies are currently supporting the government’s relief efforts in coordination and mobilizing resources. Landslide warnings were issued for several areas and the public were told to evacuate if rain continues for the next 24 hours. The death toll from the floods and landslides reached 146 today with more rain expected this week.The Disaster Management Centre said that 112 people are missing and over one million people have been affected by the disaster. Heavy rain and strong winds are forecast to continue into the first week of June, raising the risk that current conditions may worsen with land access to many affected areas restricted due to water inundation and landslides. (Colombo Gazette) read more

East Timor on eve of election presidential candidates hold debate on UNrun

East Timorese will go to the polls on Sunday, 14 April, as they become the first people to gain nationhood in the new millennium. Legislative Assembly Vice President Francisco Xavier do Amaral and independence leader Xanana Gusmão answered questions from a mediator and audience members during the debate, held inside a conference room at the National University of East Timor in Dili. More than 100 students, civil society leaders, diplomats and journalists attended the debate while hundreds more students packed a courtyard outside the venue. The event was organized by the University, the United States non-governmental organization National Democratic Institute and the radio station run by UNTAET, the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor. The two candidates elaborated on their campaign platforms, pledging to focus on development, education and improved relations with East Timor’s neighbours and the international community. Along with the live radio transmission, UN-run television, Televisão Timor Leste (TVTL), taped the debate for an evening broadcast and provided a live feed to a nearby auditorium filled with dozens more enthusiastic East Timorese. UNTAET’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said today that 2,200 national and international observers have been registered to monitor the ballot, along with an additional 3,000 agents for political parties and candidates. In addition, there are 74 East Timorese observer groups, compared to 20 during the August 2001 election for members of the Constituent Assembly. The IEC counting centre in the capital, Dili, is also ready for the arrival and counting of ballots from across the territory. Sensitive election material – including ballots, ink and ballot box seals – will be sent from IEC district offices to the 281 polling centres on Saturday. Approximately 430,000 people are eligible to vote in the election, including several thousand former refugees who have returned to East Timor since last August. In that election, 91 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots. read more