Massive mound of rubbish crushes 10 people in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankans affected by a garbage dump collapse salvage their belongings in Meetotamulla on the outskirts of Colombo Sri Lanka Saturday

A landslide at a rubbish dump in Sri Lanka's capital has killed 16 people and injured at least a dozen more. The military has been deployed to rescue people who might be trapped, police said, adding that the army and an air force helicopter were also pressed into service to douse the flames.

The disaster occurred Friday night in Meetotamulla, near Colombo.

The mound collapsed Friday evening as people were celebrating the local new year.

The AFP news agency said about 800 tonnes of waste were added to the Meethotamulla dump every day, and that the government had planned to remove it.

Following the disaster, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe vowed to close the dump - a site that has absorbed much of Colombo's waste over the past several years, especially as the capital undergoes heavy construction.

Residents had demanded for years the removal of the dump, saying it was causing health problems.

Officials said hundreds of people had been moved to temporary shelters and the government would soon begin shifting more people.

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Seneviratne said 625 people whose homes were either destroyed or under threat from the collapse were being housed in nearby schools.

Hopes of finding anyone alive under a collapsed mountain of garbage in Sri Lanka's capital faded as the death toll reached 23 with another six reported missing, police said.

One government minister, Harsha De Silva, said in a statement that no more rubbish would be dumped at the site, and would instead be placed in two other sites.

Many are feared missing after the 300-foot (91 metre) dump collapsed on homes in Colombo.

According to Major General Ranasinghe about 180-meter long and 75-meter wide section of the Meethotamulla garbage dump had collapsed on to an area where 145 houses were located.

(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena). Sri Lankans affected by a garbage dump collapse salvage their belongings in Meetotamulla, on the outskirts of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, April 15, 2017.

The compensation money will come from an insurance policy the state had taken against such disasters, the ministry said.

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