International Charter activated for floods in Sri Lanka

Due to the heavy monsoon rains that have plagued Sri Lanka over the past week, severe flooding and mudslides in the Western and Southern regions have claimed at least 188 lives, displacing a further 112,000 and directly affecting more than 500,000 according to the estimates of Disaster Management Centre of Sri Lanka (DMC). The International Disaster Charter was activated on 26 May 2017 by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on behalf of the Disaster Management Centre of Sri Lanka. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI/CGIAR), a UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office (RSO), acts as project coordinator for this activation.

These monsoon rains are the worst to hit Sri Lanka since 2003. They follow two months of severe drought. The district of Matara has been particularly affected. Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that there were still pockets where people were marooned, and rescue work was continuing. The nearby Ratnapura district, 63 miles southeast of the capital, Colombo, has experienced the highest death count of any area to date, with 79 deaths. The southern coastal city of Galle has seen 223 millimeters (8.78 inches) of rainfall over the past three days, and Ratnapura, further inland, has experienced 453 millimeters (17.8 inches) of rain over the same period.

Local authorities have closed schools in the Sabaragamuwa province due to the heavy flooding. The Sri Lankan navy and airforce have since been deployed to provide emergency relief to affected areas. The Disaster Managment Centre (DMC) of Sri Lanka is also warning that conditions could worsen, with aid organisations remaining on high alert over the coming days.

Space-based emergency mapping products:

The latest mapping products developed on the basis of space-based information can be found on the Disaster Charter website:

Situation Reports:

Sri Lanka Flood situation report (29/05/2017) using TerraSAR-X satellite data and publicly available sources (IWMI):

WHO situation report via reliefweb (28.05 2017):

Warning Centres:

Updated information of alerted areas can be found on the Disaster Management Centre of Sri Lanka website:

As part of UN-SPIDER’s ongoing efforts, we issue recommended practices that provide hands-on instructions on how to use satellite information for various hazards. See our practices for floods here: Flood Mapping and Flood Hazard Mapping.