22 killed in Sri Lanka as massive mound of garbage collapses

Sri Lankans affected by a garbage dump collapse salvage their belongings in Meetotamulla on the outskirts of Colombo Sri Lanka Saturday

A bako machine works near damaged houses during a rescue mission after a garbage dump collapsed and buried dozens of houses in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 16, 2017.

Hopes of finding anyone alive under a collapsed mountain of garbage in Sri Lanka's capital faded Sunday as the death toll reached 23 with another six reported missing, police said.

Security Forces Headquarters (West) commander Major Gen Sudantha Ranasinghe is leading the rescue operation.

Authorities say the number of dead and missing has risen from the collapse of a massive garbage mound in Meetotamulla.

The Disaster Management Centre said that 30 others are still missing.

Hundreds of people had been living in the working-class neighbourhood on the fringe of the towering dump in Meetotamulla, near Colombo, when a huge mound collapsed on Friday night during a celebration for the local new year, damaging at least 150 homes.

The site has been used to dump garbage for the past few years amid protests of the area residents.

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Residents had demanded for years the removal of the dump, saying it was causing health problems.

LOCALS slammed a "government-made disaster" yesterday as the death toll from a Sri Lankan rubbish dump collapse rose to 29.

Attorney-at-law Nuwan Bopage of civil society group representing the interests of Meethotamulla residents said that there had been a series of protests beginning January 4, 2012 demanding an immediate halt to garbage dumping at Meethotamulla. Footage filmed by the BBC on Saturday showed people continuing to dump rubbish at Meethotamulla. "But they brought the garbage in and made this place awful", said rickshaw driver Dilip Mirmal, 34, whose home was spared while those surrounding were completely subsumed. "We apologise for the government's inability to complete the task before the disaster", he said.

The garbage pile collapsed burying adjoining households. "I have a mix of feelings, of anger, frustration and sorrow".

The Colombo National hospital said four children aged between 11 and 15 were among the 23 people killed. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

"We heard a massive sound".

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