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Sri Lanka records 200 dengue deaths this year, blames garbage pile-up for outbreak

Colombo: Sri Lanka has suffered a record 200 deaths from dengue fever this year, the health minister said on Monday, blaming a garbage disposal crisis in Colombo.

Rotting garbage has been piling up in many parts of the capital since the country's main rubbish tip collapsed in April, crushing dozens of homes and killing 32 people.

An excavator is seen on top of a garbage mountain after being set on fire in Colombo, Sri Lanka in April 2017. Getty Images

An excavator seen on top of the garbage mountain that collapsed after being set on fire in Colombo, Sri Lanka in April 2017. Getty Images

With nowhere to take the trash, municipal collection has drastically slowed and led to huge piles on the streets which authorities say are encouraging mosquito-breeding.

"The situation could get worse if we don't tackle the garbage problem quickly," health minister Rajitha Senaratne told AFP as official figures showed 210 people had died from dengue so far this year - well over double the figure for the whole of 2016.

"It is not something my ministry can do alone but we need a collective effort."

The number of infected people in the first six months of this year was nearly 70,000 compared to about 55,000 cases for the whole of last year, official figures showed.

Military spokesman Roshan Seneviratne said troops had been deployed to help tackle the crisis, while police said they had prosecuted 454 people for illegally dumping garbage.

Stagnant water left behind after last month's flooding was also seen as contributing to the spread of dengue, a tropical disease spread by mosquitoes.

Updated Date: Jun 26, 2017 20:13 PM

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