Sri Lanka reopens borders after tropical cyclone Ockhi

Written by Staff Writer

Sri Lanka has reopened its borders with its neighbors a day after tropical cyclone Ockhi caused significant damage to several structures, including hotels, as well as plantations and banana crops across the north of the island.

“Cyclone Ockhi came on a strong wave. When it hit, it hit at an angle to the closest sea-level coastal base, so it hit at sea level,” said President Maithripala Sirisena in a televised address Sunday.

“But if it had come in the opposite direction, then it wouldn’t have hit as hard and we would not have seen such damage,” he added.

The president said three people had been killed and more than 3500 houses damaged, including 30000 new and 5200 repaired apartments. “The number will increase depending on the cooperation of the people,” he said.

5,000 of the damaged homes were in the Southern district of Puttalam.

Damage due to cyclone Ockhi is mostly concentrated in the country’s southern and Western provinces, according to the government. Photo by Jerša Braněć/Eliteski Linke via Getty Images.

Sri Lanka closed its borders with India, India’s south-eastern and northeastern states, as well as a land border with the Maldives on Friday.

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Officials and state property was partly flooded in the nation’s second largest city, Colombo, according to officials. Photo by Murad Sezer/Reuters.

Ockhi struck Sri Lanka the same day that a state of emergency was declared in neighbouring Pakistan, after the death toll climbed to 235 from one of the country’s worst natural disasters in decades.

In 2013, torrential rain triggered floods that killed more than 3,000 people and ruined crops throughout Sri Lanka.

After a civil war that began in 1983 in which more than 100,000 people were killed, Sri Lanka held parliamentary elections in January 2015 that resulted in President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe winning a majority.

Sirisena succeeded Rajapaksa as President earlier this year.

Travelers, in particular, were urged to exercise extreme caution and avoid travel to the southern coast of Sri Lanka and the western parts of the country.

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