WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka



 Yala National Park laid waste

By Duminda Sanjeewa Balasuriya
Tuesday, 28 December , 2004,
Tidal waves has caused severe damage to Yala National Park with more than 250 foreign and local tourists believed to have died. 

"Yala Safari" tourist hotel in close proximity to the main gate of Yala National Park has been completely destroyed . At the time of the incident about 250 foreign and local tourists had been occupying the hotel.

Partanangala lodging and Patanamgala tourist hotel located at the centre of the park have been destroyed completely.

Wildlife Officers said that there were nearly 100 foreign and local tourists and fishermen at Patanangala sea coast at the time when the tidal wave hit.

About 100 dead bodies of tourists were discovered within the park yesterday (27) by Wildlife Officers and Army Officers and about 60 of them are foreigners.

An employee of Yala Safari hotel, Jagath Kumara Kariyawasam who had managed to escape with his life said that about 50 persons of those who were in the hotel at that time, managed to save themselves by fleeing the danger areas or climbing huge trees but nearly 100 others had disappeared.

Before the disaster occurred more than 100 Safari jeeps and vans had entered the park and only about 50 of them had reportedly come out. Ten vehicles carrying foreigners had been completely destroyed with parts found scattered in the park.

Director General of Wildlife Dayananda Kariyawasam said that a special search operation was launched yesterday (27) and the day before (26) to locate the missing persons and about 50 dead bodies of foreign and local tourists Safari jeep drivers and Wildlife Department employees were found lying near Partanangala Fisheries lodge and the bungalow. He said the bodies of two Wildlife Officers, Duminda Sudasinghe and Pradeep Sanjeewa, were found and four others were missing.

Tidal waves had reached a distance of about a kilometre into the interior of Yala National Park and that area has been reduced to fallow land, having been completely washed away.

It was reported that among the local tourists there was a group of sixteen from Minuwangoda, Kalawana who have gone missing with their jeep. The dead body of V.L. Wathsala Nishanthie of 13A, Minuwangoda, Kalawana, a member of that group, was found by Wildlife Officers on Sunday (26) afternoon. The dead body of V. Ranjith Pushpakumara Nihal of Bentota, Miriswatte too had been identified.

At the time of reporting Wildlife Officers were in still in the process of ascertaining the exact extent of the death and destruction caused to the wildlife within the Park

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