Saturday, January 10, 2009

Drowning in Kelani River - Urgent Action Needed to Safeguard Life…..

Another death has been reported in the Sri Lanka incident map due to drowning in the Kelani River in Yatiyanthota. Every year 8-10 people loose their lives while bathing in Kelani River in the Yatiynathota Medical Officer of Health area. Many of the diseased are strangers to the area and they do not know the dangerous spots of the Kelani River. These deaths peak during the Sri Pada (Adam's Peak) season when pilgrims take unnecessary risk of bathing in unprotected places. Often the drowned people have been under the influence of alcohol.

The dangerous spots need to be identified with the support of the local community and warning boards need to be established . However, this is not easy as many of the river side hoteliers and small scale boutiques depend on river bathers for their income and they fear that such boards will hinder their business.

Considering the high frequency of the incidents, an urgent mechanism needs to be created to identify hot spots. GIS can be used to map hot spots. The identified hot spots need to be communicated to the bathers. In addition, life savers could be identified or trained from the affected community to search and rescue affected people. The collaboration of the District Disaster Management Coordinator, the District Secretariat, Police, Medical Officer of Health and the local community is mandatory in this regard.

Picture credit:

Kelani river:, warning sign

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