Effect Of The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake On Sri Lanka
As of 16:35 GST 3 January 2005, Sri Lankan authorities report 30,196 confirmed deaths after the island was hit by the tsunami resulting from the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake on December 26, 2004. Many of the dead were adults and the elderly. The south and east coasts were worst hit. One and a half million people have been displaced from their homes. The death toll continues to rise as the threat of infectious diseases breaking out has turned into a fact, with doctors confirming first cases of cholera.
About 1,200 dead were counted at Batticaloa in the east. At Trincomalee in the northeast, where the tsunami reached more than 2 km (1.25 mi) inland, 800 were reported dead. In neighbouring Amparai district alone, more than 5,000 dead. The naval base at Trincomalee is reported to be submerged. About 1000 more dead were counted in Mullaitivu and Vadamaradchi East . A holiday train, the "Queen of the Sea", was struck by the tsunami near the village of Telwatta as it travelled between Colombo and Galle carrying at least 1,700 passengers, killing all but a handful on board.
The agricultural sector has been affected seriously. 259 km² of paddy land has been destroyed in the northern, eastern, southern and western coastal belt. In addition, the extensive salinization of paddy lands has rendered them unsuitable for paddy cultivation. Rubbish has also been deposited on paddy lands. A large number of agricultural vehicles and equipment have been destroyed and canals and drains have been blocked. Underground sources of water have also been salinated.
Across the island collections are being taken for those who have lost everything, vans with PA systems driving around calling on people to give whatever they can. Even in the poorest, most remote areas people flock to the roadside to hand over money, clothes, bottles of water and bags of rice and lentils.
Apart from homes, many hotels as well as shops were reported to have been damaged. Hotels along the south coast were full of both foreign tourists and Sri Lankans making use of the long Christmas weekend. Twenty thousand soldiers were deployed in government-controlled areas to assist in relief operations and maintain law and order after sporadic looting. Curfews had been imposed in some areas to curb looting. Chinese light antipersonnel mines of type T-72A, left after the two-decade civil war, are feared to have been washed up and spread by the surge of water. The Norwegian Peoples' Aid Organization is currently assembling a team of mine sweepers to assess the situation.
It has been noted that in the Yala National Park, many animals seem to have moved to higher regions in order to escape the disaster. It is unclear how they detected the coming disaster, although a sixth sense, perhaps the ability to hear the infrasound rumble of the tremors or approaching tsunami, was mentioned in reports. Another possible reason is that many animals can run faster than people, enabling them to outrun the tsunami.
The test match ground at Galle, where international cricket is played, has been devastated.
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