India extends helping hand to rain-hit Sri Lanka

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) India on Friday extended help and relief to Sri Lanka which is battling torrential rain and landslides that have claimed over 60 lives and affected around 450,000 people.

“The Indian Navy is sending two ships today (Friday), INS Sutlej and INS Sunanyna with Geminis (inflatable boats), OBMs (outboard motors), additional divers, tarpaulins, consumable stores, rations etc.,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in his weekly media briefing here

He said the home ministry held a meeting on Friday morning on coordinating an airlift with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) cargo.

In the meeting, the officials assessed the quantity of relief material required.

All the material was scheduled to be collected in Delhi by 2 p.m. and a C-17 aircraft with crew and officials from NDMA and NDRF was scheduled to leave at 3 p.m., halt at Chennai to pick up additional material and head to Colombo.

“It will reach in the evening today carrying medical supplies, tarpaulins, tents, emergency lights, consumables stores, and mobile toilets,” Swarup said.

The external affairs ministry is in constant touch with the Indian high commission in Colombo for any additional logistical support that might be required.

“Sri Lanka is a close neighbour and friend and India has always been the first responder in times of a crisis,” the spokesperson said.

“As was the case during the tsunami that affected Sri Lanka in the past, this time also we will extend all necessary help and relief to Sri Lanka, as requested,” he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday condoled the deaths and said India stood by to help the government and people of Sri Lanka.

The island nation’s central Kegalle district has reported the highest number of 34 deaths. Nearly 150 people are still buried under debris.

The landslide, which happened on Tuesday evening and buried three villages, is said to be the worst in Sri Lanka’s history.



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