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Inclement weather snuffs out 15 lives

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By Ifham Nizam

Fifteen deaths were reported due to inclement weather in 15 districts on Monday and Tuesday. More than 28,263 people belonging to 7,529 families have been badly affected by floods and earth slips.

According to the Disaster Management Centre’s latest count, 802 houses have been damaged and 12 houses destroyed. More than 113 families are sheltered at welfare centres, and 357 families are staying with their relatives.

Five deaths were caused by drowning. Fiver persons were killed by earth slips. Two victims were electrocuted. The DMC has said that unlike on previous occasions, earth slips are reported from many parts of the country.

The Meteorology Department says a low-pressure area has formed in the south-east Bay of Bengal and is likely to intensify into a depression during next 36 hours and move West-Northwestwards towards North Tamil Nadu, closer to the North coast of Sri Lanka.

Torrential rains also disrupted electricity network countrywide affecting 240,000 families. Kurunegala and Puttalam were badly affected. Engineers at the first coal fired power plant complex at Norochcholai said that functioning with greatest of difficulties while one of its three plants were stopped for routine maintenance.

DMC’s Deputy Director Pradeep Kodippili yesterday said that 78 divisional secretariat divisions in 16 districts had been affected by the inclement weather.

The Meteorology Department warned that heavy rains above 150 mm could be expected in parts of Northern, North-western, Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces and in Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Nuwara-Eliya and Kandy districts today.

Meanwhile, the Irrigation Department issued a ‘Red’ alert for major floods in the low-lying areas of Maha Oya River Basin as the water levels had gone up extensively.

Irrigation Department (Hydrology) Director Eng. S.P.C. Sugeeshwara said the water level at Giriulla River Gauging Station has reached 8.94 metres.

Thus, people living in low-lying areas of Maha Oya Valley located in Alawwa, Divulapitiya, Mirigama, Pannala, Wennappuwa, Negombo, Katana, Narammala and Dankotuwa Divisional Secretariat Divisions were urged to be vigilant of a major flood situation.

A mother (35) and two daughters, aged 08 and 14, were reported dead. The father was admitted to Rambukkana Hospital and was later transferred to Kegalle Hospital for further treatment.

In another development, a young female died after a house was damaged in an earth slip in the area of Wennoruwa, Narammala Monday night. However, her mother and her brother escaped unharmed.

The deceased was identified as a 23-year-old nurse who was employed at a private hospital in Colombo. She was rushed to the Narammala Hospital, but she succumbed to injuries on admission to the hospital.

Meanwhile, Navy relief teams rescued 71 individuals trapped in floods following heavy downpour at Palaviya in Kalpitiya in the Puttalam district on Monday night

Navy has also deployed 10 relief teams at Paragoda in Kalutara, New Town, Ratnapura, Udamalaththa in Galle, Palaviya, Wanathawilluwa, Karambe in Puttalam, Giriulla in Kurunegala and Rajanganaya in Anuradhapura, covering the Western, Southern, North Central Northwestern and Sabaragamuwa provinces to provide relief to the people hit by adverse weather.

The Navy has kept 60 more flood relief teams ready in the Western, Southern, Northwestern, and North Central Naval Areas for deployment at short notice.

There can be very heavy showers or thundershowers, strong winds up to 60-70 kmph associated with rough seas around the Island.

Naval and fishing communities are advised not to venture the South-west Bay of Bengal sea area and deep and shallow sea areas around the Island (mentioned in the map below) until further notice.

Those who are in aforementioned sea regions are advised to return to coasts or move to safer areas as soon as possible, the Met. Department warned.



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President outlines a bold vision for Sri Lanka tourism at THASL’s 58th AGM

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Addressing the 58th Annual General Meeting of The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) held on Monday (27) at Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, President Ranil Wickremesinghe outlined a comprehensive strategy to propel the country’s tourism sector to new heights. Focused on surpassing the target of 5 million tourists and redefining traditional approaches, the President’s vision extends to achieving 7.5 million visitors in the coming years. The President emphasized the need for innovative thinking and collaboration within the industry to ensure sustainable growth.

“When I took over the government, I realized that sustainability alone is not sufficient. How are we going to earn foreign exchange? How are we going to have a positive balance of trade? In that, there were many suggestions. But what is the low-hanging fruit? And one of the low-hanging fruits was tourism. Let’s promote tourism fully,” President Wickremesinghe declared.

The President acknowledged the need to move beyond the existing framework and embrace competition to elevate Sri Lanka’s standing in the global tourism market. Drawing parallels with countries like Vietnam, he questioned why they had more tourists despite being in the industry for a shorter period. President Wickremesinghe stressed the importance of increasing the number of tourists to 2.5 million in the upcoming year and subsequently expanding on this figure.

(PMD)

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Free visas for nationals of China, India, Indonesia, Russsia, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan from Monday (27)

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The Controller General of Immigration and Emigration has stated that nationals of China, India, Indonesia, Russsia, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan will be granted free visas from Monday 27-11-2023 to 31-03-2024 as a pilot program to rebuild the tourism industry.

Nationals of the above nominated countries possessing, Diplomatic, Official, Public Affairs, Services and Ordinary Passports are eligible to enjoy a visa free regime under this scheme.

The above mentioned nationals should apply for Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) before arriving in Sri Lanka subject to granting / issuing free of charge up to 31-03-2024.

Under this scheme tourists can enjoy a 30 days free visa period and a double entry facility is permitted within 30 days from the date of first arrival in Sri Lanka.

Free ETA under this scheme can be applied up to 31-03-2024.

The free ETA cannot be extended further and is limited only to thirty (30) days. In case the free ETA period of 30 days expires after 31-03-2024, an extension of visa could be applied subject to paying the appropriate fee.

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Cabinet gives green light for Colombo Port City Order No. 3 of 2023 to be presented in Parliament

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The President in his capacity as the Minister of Investment Promotion has published the Colombo Port City Orders No. 3 of 2023 (Enterprises with Strategic Value – Guidelines for releasing or encouraging to award for customs – free enterprises) under the provisions of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Act No. 11 of 2021 by the extraordinary gazette notification No. 2355/30 dated 25.10.2023.

The Cabinet of Ministers granted approval to the proposal furnished by the Hon. President in his capacity as the Minister of Investment Promotions to submit the said orders to the Parliament for its concurrence.

(PMD)

 

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