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37 dead, 150 more feared buried in Sri Lanka landslide

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COLOMBO — At least 37 people have been killed and over 150 feared buried after they were buried under two landslides triggered by more than three days of heavy rain in central Sri Lanka, disaster officials said on Wednesday as rescuers raced to find survivors and recover the dead.

President Maithripala Sirisena flew to a central tea-growing area where images taken from a helicopter showed floodwaters engulfing entire villages and forested hills deluged with reddish mud.

“The loss is devastating,” the President posted on Twitter.

The Disaster Management Centre’s (DMC) updated toll came after bodies were pulled out of the mud in the central village of Aranayake and neighbouring Bulathkohupitiya.

“A total of 37 people have been killed, 28 wounded … in weather-related incidents in the past three days,” DMC spokesman Pradeep Kodippili said.

The President met with people who had lost family members as well as seen their homes destroyed.

Mr Sirisena has ordered troops to help evacuate people living on slopes or in flood-hit areas, while the navy and the air force have also been called in to help with relief operations.

In the area worst hit by landslides, 134 people were still unaccounted for.

“We have got complaints from relatives about their loved ones missing,” a police officer in the area said.

In total 155 people are still missing.

Meanwhile, about 150 people living above the landslide-hit area have been rescued, military spokesman Jayanath Jayaweera told reporters.

“Army commandos rescued all of them this morning,” Mr Jayaweera said, adding that 266 troops in total had been deployed for relief and rescue operations in the worst-affected central district of Kegalle.

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The 300 millimetres of rain since Saturday had also washed away roads and caused widespread damage, making it impossible to get earth-moving equipment in.

“The rescue workers, even right now, they’re just digging from their hands, in order to find people, or at this time some bodies,” Red Cross spokesman Mahieash Johnny said.

Police said many residents had fled the tea-growing and farming area before the landslides hit.

More than 350,000 people have been hit by flooding in Sri Lanka and 223,000 are sheltering in state-run welfare centers.

AFP

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Over 70% of deep-sea fish of Atlantic Ocean have ingested plastic : Study

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Fragments of plastic are found throughout the world, from nearly every continent to nearly every body of water. But, researchers recently have found 73 percent of Northwest Atlantic deep-sea fish are also eating it — the highest reported frequency of plastic-eating fish in the world.

Plastic particles were found in some of the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean with almost three quarters of a sample of more than 230 deep-water fish collected by NUI Galway scientists having ingested plastic particles.

The contamination level among the fish species, located in the northwest Atlantic thousands of kilometres from land and 600m down in the ocean, is one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The NUIG scientists, as part of the study, participated in a transatlantic crossing onboard the marine institute’s Celtic Explorer vessel.

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PhD candidate and lead author Alina Wieczorek said, “Deep-water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton [microscopic animals] and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics.”

During this research cruise they took dead deep-sea fish from midwater trawls such as the spotted lanternfish, rakery beaconlamp, stout saw-palate and scaly dragonfish.

Microplastics are small plastic fragments that commonly originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items entering the ocean. Other sources may be waste water effluents carrying plastic fibres from clothing and microbeads from personal care products. Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface.

The fish ranged in size from the smallest species the Glacier Lantern at 3.5cm to the largest species, the stout saw-palate at 59cm.

Agencies

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