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Floods, landslides kill 73 in Sri Lanka; more than 100 still missing

Sri Lankan residents wade through floodwaters in the Kolonnawa suburb of Colombo on May 20, 2016.  
Desperate Sri Lankans clambered onto rubber dinghies and makeshift rafts May 20 to flee their homes in the flooded capital Colombo as fresh downpours elsewhere stalled rescue efforts at disaster zones. The heaviest rains in a quarter of a century have pounded the island since last weekend, sparking huge landslides that have buried victims in up to 15 metres of mud.
Sri Lankan residents wade through floodwaters in the Kolonnawa suburb of Colombo on May 20, 2016. Desperate Sri Lankans clambered onto rubber dinghies and makeshift rafts May 20 to flee their homes in the flooded capital Colombo as fresh downpours elsewhere stalled rescue efforts at disaster zones. The heaviest rains in a quarter of a century have pounded the island since last weekend, sparking huge landslides that have buried victims in up to 15 metres of mud. ISHARA S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka’s government on Saturday raised the death toll from landslides and heavy flooding around the island nation to 73, as soldiers continued searching for scores of people missing since deadly landslides struck hill country several days ago.

In the capital, Colombo, and its suburbs, thousands of homes remained inundated, though there were signs that the waters were receding. About 243,000 people remained in temporary shelters nationwide.

READ MORE: 200 families feared dead by mudslides in Sri Lanka

Soldiers looked for bodies among thick mud deposits in the central district of Kegalle, where landslides swallowed up three villages on Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe, who is co-ordinating the search, said one body and parts of another were found Saturday. Twenty-one people have been confirmed dead from the landslides in the three villages and 123 others are missing.

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