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Sri Lanka monsoon leaves scores dead

Rescue teams search for dozens of missing fishermen as confirmed death toll from rain and strong winds reaches 40.

Last Modified: 10 Jun 2013 13:58
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Naval boats and helicopters scoured seas off Sri Lanka on Monday for dozens of people still missing [AP]

The death toll from a heavy storm in Sri Lanka over the weekend has risen to 40, while 30 others are missing, officials say.

The Disaster Management Centre said on Monday that 29 people were also hurt in the storm. Most of the dead and missing were fishermen.

Naval boats and helicopters scoured seas off Sri Lanka for survivors.

The rain and winds, which hit the island early on Saturday, have also destroyed more than 100 houses and damaged another 2,185 buildings, Sarath Lal Kumara, a spokesman for the Disaster Management Centre, said.

"We continue to look for missing people," Kumara said. "The navy and the air force are leading the search and rescue operations."

The country's meteorology department has come under heavy criticism for failing to warn fishermen of the severity of the storm.

A group of Buddhist monks has lodged a protest with the Colombo meteorological office, accusing it of failing to alert people early enough about the strength of the monsoon.

"Your inefficiency resulted in a national calamity," the monks said in a letter addressed to the head of the office. "We demand that you take every step possible to prevent a recurrence."

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