How Sri Lanka braced for Burevi | Sunday Observer

How Sri Lanka braced for Burevi

6 December, 2020

Thousands of others from the Eastern and Northern provinces braced on Wednesday for Burevi that was expected to be one of the worst tropical cyclones to hit the country in 20 years. The Department of Meteorology issuing a red alert urged the public to be aware.

“It was something I have never experienced before. The wind blew with sea water, but somehow that was not what we expected,” 24-year-old S. Murugan from Mannar told the Sunday Observer.

Burevi was expected to make landfall between Trincomalee and Point-Pedro, close to Mullativu at a wind speed of 80-90 kmph.

“The storm surge of about one-metre high is likely to inundate low lying coastal areas from Trincomalee to Kankasanthurai and from Pooneryn to Puttalam,” the Meteorology Department said.

Red alert

The red alert continued, with the Department issuing another warning at 4.00 am on Thursday, stating that Burevi has crossed north-eastern coast between Kuchchaveli and Thiriyayi between 10.30 - 11.30 pm December 2. The wind speed by then decreased to 70-80 kmph.

By 2.30 pm on Thursday, it issued an amber alert saying, ‘the cyclonic storm ‘Burevi’ is moving away from the country. Hence the influence of the cyclone is expected to reduce.’ On Friday, Burevi left destruction and chaos, and around 11.30 am on Friday, was located about 145 km to the West of Mannar and moving further from the country. It had weakened into a deep depression and remained over the Gulf of Mannar. In an interview telecast on national television, Disaster Management Centre (DMC) Director General Maj. Gen. (Retd) Sudantha Ranasinghe said that the impact of Burevi was lesser than predicted.

“We were ready for heavy rains since early November,” he said, adding that the tropical cyclone came when the country was ready for heavy monsoonal rains. The authorities had taken measures to combat the raging cyclone.

“Do not rush to places to take selfies or to see the cyclone. We have taken measures for your safety and you have to act responsibly,” Maj. Gen. (Retd) Ranasinghe told the public during the program on Wednesday.

Ahead of the cyclone, the Education Ministry closed schools in the Eastern and Northern Provinces till Friday. Fishermen were advised to refrain from going to the sea.


In an announcement, Defence Secretary Major General (Retd) G.D.H. Kamal Gunaratne said tri-forces, Police and health officers were deployed in the areas expected to be worst affected by Burevi. The Government also allocated Rs. 1 million for the District Secretaries in these areas to provide essential services to the people.

He said Tri-Services, Police and Disaster Management Centre along with other Government authorities, were told to give the highest priority to save people. One person was reported missing and six were injured after Burevi hit the country. It affected nearly 45,000 people. Over 10,500 had to be evacuated to safer locations. Nearly 2,200 houses were damaged.

Jaffna reported the highest number of the affected people of 31,703. The Northern Province had 43,814 affected people, the Northern Western Province 594, the Eastern province 265, the Central Province 121, the Sabaragamuwa Province 50, and Uva four. “The fishing community was the most affected. The winds blew away their fishing gear and destroyed the boats. But we thank God we are all safe,” Murugan said.

Wind and heavy rain

M. Muhunthan, a father of two, from Point Pedro said the wind and heavy rain started on December 2 night till December 3 evening. “Before the cyclone came, we were very scared. We live near the hospital.

We could see the hospital staff and volunteers getting ready to handle the situation,” he said, adding that the last time he experienced a cyclone was in 1978. He said the magnitude of Burevi was much lesser.

“Luckily this time nothing bad happened. People expected the damage to be worse than this. But most areas got flooded because of the poorly planned drainage system,” he said. On Friday, the Navy continued to aid people in the Northern and North Central Provinces, who were affected by the cyclone.

The heavy showers brought by the cyclonic storm caused floods in the Punkudutivu Island, displacing its community, the Navy stated in a press release adding, responding promptly to this urgent situation, disaster relief teams of the Northern Naval Command relocated 50 distressed families from the island to four safe locations on December 3.

The affected were also provided cooked-meals, dry rations, sanitary and medical facilities by the Navy, adhering to Covid-19 preventive guidelines.

The North Central Naval Command on Friday rendered assistance to distribute aid made available by the Kilinochchi Divisional Secretariat and the Kilinochchi Disaster Management Centre to 86 fishermen and their family members stranded in the Iranativu Island as a result of the cyclone.

The Navy in collaboration with the Disaster Management Centre, was on the lookout for relief efforts. 

The Burevi cyclone caused damage to property and disrupted lives in the Puttalam district. Fishermen refrained from venturing out to sea for the third day on Friday and fish stalls remained closed.   Pic: Prasad Poornamal