A Sri Lankan court today allowed authorities to dump 350 metric tonnes of rubbish per day at an alternate site after the catastrophic collapse of a garbage mound near Colombo killed 31 people and buried dozens of homes. The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) had sought a Colombo magistrate court's intervention, seeking permission to dump garbage at an alternate site within the Colombo district. The court permitted the CMC to dump 350 metric tons of rubbish per day to the Kadirayana dump as a solution to CMC's problem of having to dispose garbage without the dumping site at Meethotamulla, where the tragedy struck last Friday. A portion of the 91-metre dump collapsed following a fire incident as the residents celebrated the traditional Sri Lankan New Year, burying dozens of residential buildings and trapping many people in Meetotamulla area in Kolonnawa. Since Sunday, garbage collection in Colombo city was on a standstill, further fuelling public anger. Residents did not allow garbage collection trucks from entering Meethotamulla, leaving CMC with no site to dump the 800 tons of rubbish that pile up daily. The relatives of those died and displaced have blamed politicians for the disaster, accusing current and past governments of negligence.
They booed the politicians who visited the site in Kolonnawa and feared that the authorities would not be able to account for all the persons missing. At least seven children were among the dead. According to the Colombo Gazette, the death toll climbed to 31 even as the military continued its search operation. The government was still assessing the compensation amount to be paid to the affected families. After the explosion in the 23-million-tonne garbage mound, the air force was deployed to douse the flames. Nearly 1,000 military security personnel, including police and special task forces, have been deployed for rescue operation. The tragedy has displaced nearly 200 families numbering more than 1500. Nearly 80 houses were completely destroyed while many more suffered partial damage, according to Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Centre. The affected families have blamed politicians for the tragedy, though President Maithripala Sirisena has ordered officials to ensure maximum relief to them. The National Building Research Organisation said people still living in over 130 houses in the area must be relocated for safety. The true scale of the damage remains unclear, police said as about 800 tonnes of garbage were added to the dump daily. The Parliament was recently warned that 23 million tonnes of garbage at Kolonnawa dump was a serious hazard.
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