A landslide at a massive waste site on Friday, April 14, 2017 in Sri Lanka‘s capital killed at least six people and injured 11 as emergency workers dug into the mountain of trash to save survivors buried in dozens of houses.
The 91-metre-high rubbish dump at the northeastern edge of Colombo collapsed on Friday when a fire broke out at its top, engulfing the mountain of garbage in flames and triggering a landslide that swamped the homes below.
A 13-year-old boy and two girls aged 14 and 15 were among the dead, said Pushpa Soysa, head nurse at the main Colombo hospital.
Three other people pulled from the wreckage of their homes were already deceased by the time they arrived at the hospital, she said.
Friday’s fire broke out as the country marked its traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year, and most people were in their houses celebrating.
Sri Lank’as government deployed hundreds of troops and police to dig through mounds of trash for survivors.
Police said in a statement they were unable to say how many people or houses had been buried in the landslide.
“It is too early and still we can’t say how many houses are damaged or destroyed and how many people affected,” said Pradeep Kodippili, Disaster Management Centre spokesman.
Estimates ranged from 40 to 100 homes swamped by the fallen trash.
Roughly 800 tonnes of solid waste is added daily to the 23 million tonnes of garbage rotting at the open dump at Kolonnawa on the northeastern edge of the capital.
Residents in the area have been demanding the removal of the dump, saying it was causing health issues. The government had planned to clear it soon under a new infrastructure plan.