The 300 ft (91m) high pile of debris crumbled down after floods and a fire, reportedly leaving 28 people dead, while 30 more are still missing, according to BBC. Residents of the area had been objecting to the rubbish dump for years, stating it was causing health problems. Although successive governments had tried to figure out alternative solutions for the problem, the pile of garbage continued to grow over the years, with tractors scaling its sides to dump fresh loads. Reports said that 800 tonnes of waste were added to it every day.
The local police reported on Saturday that they thought an explosion underneath the dump had set off the landslide. The slide swept away almost 100 houses, with some being deposited 30 yards from their original locations and a few others landing on the roofs of other houses, stated Priyantha Jayakody, deputy inspector general of police. Mr. Jayakody said it was unclear whether the explosion had been natural or man-made.
According to Sri Lanka's deputy foreign minister, Harsha de Silva, the dump collapse was the result of "a problem running for decades, perhaps as long as 20 years." The government has now announced the closure of the dump. About 400 families have been moved to temporary shelters in schools, as the AFP news agency reports.
Last month, a similar landslide at a rubbish dump in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia left at least 100 people dead.