Thousands homeless as Sri Lanka floods death toll hits 17



Army relief workers in aluminum dinghies handed out rice and other food to residents in submerged parts of the Sri Lankan capital as the death toll from monsoon floods across the country rose to 17 today.

The monsoon hits the South Asian country twice a year, bringing vital rain for irrigation and hydro-power generation, but it can be deadly and destructive.

At least 17 people have died since Friday, after heavy downpours inundated 10 of the country's 25 districts.

Officials said floodwaters in the area were receding, but about 161,000 people were still unable to return to their homes.

The flooding in the area was exacerbated by the illegal filling of low-lying lands reserved for stormwater retention, they added.

Residents of Kelaniya, on the outskirts of Colombo, waded through waist-deep waters, while some used makeshift rafts and oars to get around on streets which now resembled canals.

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