No hope for survivors in Sri Lanka landslide, over 100 dead

HALDUMMULLA, Sri Lanka - All hopes of finding survivors under the mud and rubble of a landslide in south-central Sri Lanka had run out by first light on Thursday, though a government minister cut the estimated death toll to more than 100 from 300 the previous night.
"I don't think there could be any survivors," Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told Reuters, after visiting the disaster site in the tea-plantation village of Haldummulla, 190 km (120 miles) from the capital, Colombo.
"It is about 100 people who have been buried as there were some children and some estate workers who were not at their houses at the time of the disaster," he added, explaining why the death toll could be lower than feared the day before.
However, the Disaster Management Center's last estimate for the number killed was still 300.
The center said 150 houses were buried in Wednesday's landslide, which stretched 3 km (2 miles) and engulfed the village after days of heavy monsoon rains.
Children who left for school before the earthfall returned to find their clay and cement houses had been buried. Nearly 300 people, most of them children, spent the night at a nearby school after warnings of further landslide.
Villagers had been advised in 2005 and 2012 to move away because of the threat of landslides, but many did not heed the warning, Amaraweera said.
There have been a number of landslides since the onset of heavy rains in mid-September resulting in damage to roads, but there had been no casualties until Wednesday.
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