Sri Lankan Mudslide Caused by Weeks of Severe Weather Problems

Posted on Oct 30, 2014

A fatal mudslide in the Badulla district Sri Lanka has resulted in more than 100 deaths, according to a preliminary estimate from BBC News. The natural disaster occurred on Oct. 29 and was the culmination of weeks of severe, wet weather in that area of the country. The downpours persisted after the mudslide occurred, which hampered rescue efforts, according to BBC News. As nightfall hit the area, local authorities had to suspend search and rescue efforts due to the treacherous conditions. Although Badulla is the only area where a mudslide has hit so far, many parts of the country located in the Indian Ocean have been dealing with mudslide warnings because of the continuous and heavy rainfall.

A fatal mudslide in Sri Lanka was the result of weeks of extreme weather

A large disaster
NBC News reported the village of Haldummulla had been hit especially hard, with many homes completely buried by the mudslide. Many children returning from school for the day couldn't locate their houses because of the amount of earth displaced. Although the event is still ongoing and governmental efforts are focused on rescue and cleanup operations, a preliminary estimate from Mahinda Amaraweera, Sri Lanka's disaster management minister, puts the length of the mudslide at approximately two miles according to NBC News.

More mudslides could occur
One of the major reasons the Sri Lankan government had to suspend rescue operations during the nighttime hours was the possibility of more mudslides, BBC News reported. The ground in the area of Badulla had already been saturated from the weeks of rain and was prone to further destabilization. The long length of the weather system, which has gone on for weeks and shows few signs of quickly abating, means that further incidents are a distinct possibility. Other landslides have occurred since the start of Sri Lanka's rainy season in early September, although none have been so serious.

Travel woes
While the mudslide is the single largest and most dangerous event associated with the weeks of extreme weather experienced in Sri Lanka, the severe rains have caused problems across the country. Along with power outages and other utility infrastructure problems, travel through both ground and air has been affected. While not as serious as other recent events such as Hurricane Gonzalo hitting the U.K., there have still been delays for planes arriving to airports in the country. Slippery road conditions and poor visibility have affected those traveling by car as well, creating issues for corporate travelers on tight schedules. Additionally, some roads have been completely blocked at points because of the mudslides.

Asset damage
Although the landslide in Badulla hit a mostly rural and agricultural area of the country, it still caused damage to business assets in the area. A large swath of tea farms that make up part of the region's commerce base were destroyed in the landslide, Reuters pointed out. The crops grown to this point in time were mostly eliminated, a costly loss for the businesses involved.


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