JULY 8, 2016
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—In the central hills of Aranayaka, Sri Lanka, approximately 100 kilometers (62 mi) outside the nation’s capital, Colombo, a series of mudslides plowed through villages, killing over 100 people and affecting some 350,000. The precursory torrential rains began pummeling the region on May 15, at one point dumping 373 millimeters (approx. 15 in.) of rain in a 24-hour period on the town of Kilinochchi. Authorities are calling this the worst natural disaster to strike Sri Lanka since the 2004 tsunami.
According to the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sri Lanka, no Witnesses died in the disaster, but nearly 200 have been displaced. A Kingdom Hall, or house of worship, in Kaduwela, located about 15 kilometers (9 mi) from Colombo, was inundated with two meters of water (6 ft).
The Witnesses promptly set up a disaster relief committee to coordinate the efforts to provide for the immediate physical needs of the victims as well as offer pastoral care. A Kingdom Hall in Kotahena was used to store provisions, such as potable water, clothing, and medical supplies. Hundreds of local Witnesses volunteered to distribute needed items to their fellow Witnesses and neighbors.
Nidhu David, a spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sri Lanka, comments: “We continue to pray for the many families who have been affected by this recent tragedy. At the same time, we are helping to clean flood-damaged homes, distribute food, and donate clothes to those in need. The generous volunteer spirit among our members has been a bright light during this dark time.”
International: David A. Semonian, Office of Public Information, 1-718-560-5000
Sri Lanka: Nidhu David, 94-11-2930-444