Sri Lanka mudslide wipes out accidental driver's family



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14/10/30  KOSLANDA - Sinniah Yogarajan only stepped in at the last minute to drive a group of workers to a Sri Lankan sugarcane factory as a favour to one of his sons. By the time he returned home a couple of hours later, his wife, two sons, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter had all been swallowed up by a giant mudslide. "The entire neighbourhood had just disappeared. Where our homes used to be, it was just a river of mud," an emotional Yogarajan said at a nearby relief centre in the central Koslanda tea-growing region. "This is something that shouldn t happen to anyone. There is no point in my living anymore. What am I going to do without my family?" Around 100 people are feared to have been buried alive in Koslanda after a giant mudslide wiped out scores of homes on a tea plantation Wednesday following days of monsoon rains.

Officials say there is no chance of anyone caught up in the disaster having survived Like many of the plantations which produce Sri Lanka s most famous export, Ceylon tea, the Meeriyabedda estate is usually a picture postcard of rolling green hills set against deep blue skies. But on Thursday morning, the landscape looked more like a battlefield as hundreds of soldiers sifted through the slick of mud with the help of mechanical diggers.

Yogarajan, whose wife Krishnathi worked as a nurse on the estate, escaped with his life only because he stepped in to take a truck-load of workers who would normally have been driven by his 24-year-old son Raja.