Apr 19, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the authorities expect to conclude the rescue operations at Meethotamulla garbage dump collapse within the next 72 hours.
"While a sustainable solution will be provided to the residents of Meethotamulla, we expect rescue operations to conclude within the next 72 hours with the help of the Sri Lankan military," the Prime Minister said after visiting the site this morning.
The Premier said, prior to leaving for the inspection at Meethotamulla, he had a meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena and the attached ministers and officials on the tragedy.
"While those currently displaced have been relocated to safety, the Government of Sri Lanka is determined to take steps which will see those affected return to their way of life," the Premier said.
He said, simultaneously, the government is determined to find a sustainable solution to the existing problem of the Meethotamulla garbage dump, and have instructed the relevant parties on how to tackle this matter effectively.
The program aimed at garbage and waste recycling within Sri Lanka is a matter of emergency, he said.
"We must halt the damage caused due to the garbage dump at Metotamulla, and implement plans which will ensure that those in the area can return to their day-to-day lives," Prime Minister Wickremesinghe stressed.
Meanwhile, an AFP report said search operations for survivors were concluded on Wednesday, five days after a 300-foot garbage dump in Meethotamulla collapsed after a night of rain burying dozens of people and homes.
"We are still carrying out clearing operations. The final death toll is 32 and a handful of people who were listed as missing are now accounted for," military spokesman Roshan Seneviratne told AFP.
Residents in the area have been evacuated and the government is now facing the mammoth task of removing the garbage dump and providing displaced residents with alternative housing and other facilities.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe vowed to provide the survivors with permanent housing within a couple of months and to relocate the garbage dump. Before the collapse, the Parliament was warned about the threat and had asked for a long-term solution to deal with the city’s garbage, AFP reported.
The waste management situation has worsened in Colombo after the dump was shut down on Friday. The city’s civic body had promised to clear the garbage from the streets by April 19.
Meanwhile, protestors agitated against the dumping of trash in smaller landfills at five other locations in the outskirts of Colombo.