18 killed in Sri Lanka floods

Nearly 200,000 people have been forced out of their homes, a spokesman for the Disaster Management Centre said. Floods covered large areas of the east and northeast while heavy rains in the central part of the country caused mudslides as roads have been cut off during the past four days, the spokesman said.

An estimated 160,000 hectares of paddy has gone underwater with a serious impact on the future rice production, Minister of Agrarian Services S.M. Chandrasena said. The army, navy and the air force have been deployed to provide relief and try to shore up barriers in the eastern area.

"They are filling bags of sand and placing them on tank bunds to prevent them breaching. In some cases it has been helpful, but in others it has not been able to stop the pressure of water," relief worker Sunil Chandrasiri based in the eastern Ampara district said.

The government has set up over 500 temporary camps in schools, temples, churches and government buildings for the displaced.

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