Apr 15, Colombo: The death toll in the collapse of a section of the mountainous landfill in a suburb of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo has risen to 19 by Saturday afternoon, and is expected to rise as an unknown number of people are still missing, according to government officials.
Among the dead are five children. Another seven injured in the incident are receiving treatment at the Colombo national Hospital.
The 300-foot high garbage dump in Meethotamulla soaked by the previous night collapsed Friday afternoon after it caught fire burying an estimated 40 homes.
Emergency officials told the BBC that up to 20 people may remain buried in their houses, with the Sri Lankan army now coordinating the recovery.
Officials said the heavy rains overnight caused the garbage mountain to shift and the heap became further destabilized after a fire broke out, triggering a landslide that buried the homes.
On a Presidential directive, hundreds of tri service personnel, Policemen, Special Task Force (STF) personnel are currently engaged in relief operations after evacuating the victims as well as their valuables from affected houses in close coordination with the workforce of the Disaster Management Centre (DMC).
The tri-forces, police together with Disaster Management officials are continuing to provide relief to the people affected by the disaster.
The government has firmly requested the public not to visit the site for viewing as it would hinder the relief efforts and further harass the distressed residents affected by the incident.