Colombo, April 16 (NIA) – Sri Lankan authorities on Sunday, held the funeral of 15 victims who had died in the Meetotamulla garbage dump tragedy, just outside Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo.
Organizer of the ‘Movement Against the Meetotamulla Garbage Dump’, Nuwan Bopage told NewsIn.Asia that 24 bodies had been recovered from underneath the rubble so far and they believed there were at least 20 more bodies still trapped inside.
Bopage said that hundreds of people had attended the funeral on Sunday to pay their final respects and offer their condolences to grieving family members who had lost their loved ones in the tragedy.
Bopage added that the funeral of the remaining victims would be held on Monday.
“The residents of Meetotamulla are extremely angry at the authorities for their failure to address this issue before. We have been urging the state to look into this matter for the past six years but no one did anything and today many lives have been lost,” Bopage said.
“This is a murder, not a tragedy.”
Rescue teams continued with their search operations on Sunday to search for more bodies trapped under the rubble. Military Spokesperson, Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne said that over 1000 troops had been deployed in the rescue and search operations and a center had been set up for anyone to provide details of missing people.
“It is difficult to say how many are missing because no one has any accurate details. However we will continue the search operations,” Seneviratne said.
The 300 foot (91 meter high) massive garbage dump collapsed on Friday evening, burying over 100 homes and displacing over 600 people as the country celebrated its traditional New Year.
Police said many residents had evacuated their homes before the disaster because the heavy rains on the previous day had caused garbage slides and damaged the foundations of many homes.
Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha De Silva said the state would bear the funeral expenses of the victims and forces had begun relocating people who were under threat.
De Silva said that no more garbage would also be dumped at this site and two temporary sites had been identified.