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Many feared buried as hopes dim after Sri Lanka garbage dump landslide

COLOMBO: Hopes faded on Sunday for the survival of an estimated 100 people trapped under the mud and debris of a landslide at a giant rubbish dump in the Sri Lankan capital.

Police say the known death toll from the disaster has risen to 26 and emergency workers are to resume their search on Monday after halting late on Sunday night.

The 300-foot-high (90-metre) dump in the Meethotamulla area on the border of the commercial heart of Colombo collapsed after flames engulfed it late on Friday, the nation’s new year’s day, burying many homes.

Military spokesman Roshan Senivirathna told Reuters that survival was “very unlikely” but the rescue mission involving more than 1,000 emergency workers from defence establishments would continue.

Authorities are struggling to ascertain the exact number of missing people.

Liyanage Menaka, who lost her house in the disaster, urged the government to provide homes for those who live in danger around the country’s biggest garbage pile.

“The lives of more than 100 are lost. What we are asking is (that they) give us a solution and take care of our kids,” she told Reuters.

President Maithripala Sirisena has instructed the authorities to ensure financial resources are not an obstacle in the relief operation, his office said in a statement.

The police said they were investigating whether the landslide was natural or man-made. They also said about 145 houses had been damaged.

Residents of the area, mostly living in shanties, had been demanding the removal of the dump, saying it was causing health problems. The government had said it would remove it soon, under an infrastructure plan.

(Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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Eurasians small group, but made many contributions: PM Lee

SINGAPORE: Eurasians may be the smallest group in Singapore, but they have made many contributions, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a festival to celebrate Eurasian culture and tradition on Sunday (Apr 9).

Among the many Eurasians who have distinguished themselves and made significant contributions to the society were first Law Minister E W Barker, former heads of Civil Service Stanley Stewart and George Bogaars, and Singapore’s second President Dr Benjamin Sheares, said PM Lee.

He also cited others like former Ambassador to Indonesia Barry Desker, the first woman Supreme Court Justice Judith Prakash, jazz pianist Jeremy Monteiro and Olympic champion Joseph Schooling.

In recognising their achievements, PM Lee said he felt “lucky” to have known all of them personally.

“I am very happy to see Eurasians doing well in many professions, all over society, establishing and making a name for themselves,” he said, adding that he had “no doubt” that Eurasians will make many contributions to Singapore.

Children decorating Easter eggs at the Eurasian festival on Sunday (Apr 9).

The Eurasian Festival organised by the Eurasian Association (EA) together with the People’s Association was held at Our Tampines Hub. The event featured highlights like Easter egg decoration, live band performances and story telling. 

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