Sri Lanka rains: Massive landslide buries three villages; 200 families feared missing

More than 137,000 people have been evacuated so far and at least 11 people have been killed

A landslide in Sri Lanka, caused by continuous rainfall for more than three days, buried three villages in a central district on Tuesday. The government officials and residents said death toll was yet to be determined. As many as 200 families are feared missing in the landslide.

Nineteen of Sri Lanka's 25 districts have been hit by the torrential rain. It has forced more than 137,000 people from their homes so far and at least 11 people have been killed.

In an interview with Reuters, deputy police inspector Rohan Dias said rescue operations at the villages in the central district of Kegalle were continuing. "There were about 150 families in those villages and we don't know how many survived," he said.

Dias added: "There are about 800 people gathered in the nearby temples including the people from the neighboring villages fearing their villages could also be affected. There are another 400 people in the roads who have come to see their relatives."

Kegalle district secretary W.M. Abeywickrema told a local private channel that around 400 people had been rescued so far.

A middle-aged woman told the local channel: "I saw a whole rock came down and buried many houses. There are people inside."

Military Spokesman Jayanath Jayaweera said 174 service personnel and 8 army officers had been already deployed to the rescue area in Aranayaka in Kegalle district. Officials said that troops have launched rescue operations in deluged areas of the island. Boats and helicopters have been pulling more than 200 people trapped in the northwestern coastal district of Puttalam to safety.

Pradeep Kodippili, a spokesman for the disaster management centre said: "This is the worst torrential rain we have seen since 2010."

Officials have said flooded roads and fallen trees have led to huge traffic jams in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. Trains were halted as water submerged railway tracks.

Heavy rains have also struck the neighbouring Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. More than 100 houses have been damaged in coastal Kerala and about 50 families have been shifted to a relief camp in the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram.

The weather department has forecast heavy rainfall across Tamil Nadu over the next two days and warned fishermen not to go out to sea for fishing.