Colombo, April 16 (NIA) – Sri Lankan Police, on Sunday said it had launched an investigation into the Meetotamulla tragedy to ascertain whether the landslide had occurred naturally or if it was an act of sabotage.
A 10 member team of geologists from the Peradeniya University had been called at the site of the disaster, just outside capital Colombo, while officials from the mining and excavation divisions along with a group of judicial medical officers had also been called in to probe the disaster.
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.
So far 24 bodies have been recovered from under the rubble while residents believe that at least 20 more victims are trapped under the debris and dirt.
Over 1000 troops have been deployed in the search and rescue operations and a center had been set up for anyone to provide details of missing people. Troops were also engaged in evacuating residents to safer locations in fear that there might be a re-collapse.
“Many families have lost everything. This tragedy could have been avoided if only the authorities had listened to us,” Organizer of the ‘Movement Against the Meetotamulla Garbage Dump’, Nuwan Bopage said.
Bopage had been fighting against the dumping of garbage in Meetotamulla for the past six years and said that protests had so far fallen to deaf ears.
He added that the ‘Movement Against the Meetotamulla Garbage Dump’ had been launched in order to warn the state over the dangers of dumping garbage there and fight for the rights of the hundreds of families residing in Meetotamulla.
Convenor of the ‘Movement Against the Meetotamulla Garbage Dump’, Keerthirathna Perera who had been actively fighting against the same cause for years, lost his entire family as mounds of rubbish buried his home on Friday evening.
Keerthirathna lost his wife, daughter, son in law and grand daughter in the tragedy.
“This is a murder, not a tragedy. We had been demanding action but no one did anything,” Bopage said.
22 year old, Nimal De Silva* (name changed on request) whose grandmother, aunt and two cousin sisters were residing in Meetotamulla, who are now missing after the tragedy, said that when he and his father rushed to the scene, people around them said they had heard a loud explosion on Friday evening which toppled their homes.
However Nimal has some serious questions. What caused the explosion, is his query.