State agencies failed to give early warnings of the gale force winds that caused havoc in the south on Friday, it was revealed yesterday.
Gale-force winds in the south left 17 dead and another 35 missing, whilst rising flood waters elsewhere in the country have taken a toll of seven lives, officials said.
The worst affected was the coastal areas of Galle and Matara where 17 people were confirmed dead and 35 people, mainly fishermen, missing or feared dead, as a gale-force storm hit the coast without warning early on Friday.The storm, packing winds of up to 70 kilometres an hour hit the southern coast caught thousands of people unawares and trapped scores of fishermen who had gone out to sea.
The Disaster Management Centre (DMC)’s Additional Director Pradeep Kodippilli said the disaster in the south had damaged about 1010 houses and affected some 5,505 people.
Meanwhile representatives of fisher folk and other officials yesterday blamed the Meteorological Department for failing to give an early warning of the storm. They said many lives could have been saved, if an early warning had been given.
Matara Multi-Day Vessel Owners Cooperative Society President Manjula Piyasantha hit out at officials from the Department of Meteorology, Fisheries Ministry, the navy and police for failing to isssue a warning.
“These people come regularly on TV talking about the hi-tech measures that have been implemented to detect onward weather patterns.