Sri Lanka sent in troops to rescue thousands of residents marooned in the capital Colombo on Thursday after the heaviest rains in 18 years flooded the city and the national parliament.
Speaker Chamal Rajapakse was forced to take a boat to inspect the national assembly located on an island in a man-made lake, which is usually reached by a causeway. MPs were later ferried to it in military amphibious fighting vehicles for a brief five-minute session, held in darkness, during which they passed six pieces of legislation under bipartisan agreement. The red-carpeted main chamber itself was dry, but the assembly's lower floor was under more than a metre (3 feet 3 inches) of water, mirroring other areas of the capital where thousands of homes were inundated, AFP says.
Eleven emergency shelters have been erected to accommodate displaced people while rescue boats have been sent to some of the areas to those marooned, the spokesman said.
Weather forecasters said the rains were likely to continue.
The government closed down schools and granted permission to public servants to stay away from work while private businesses were short-staffed as people struggled to reach work, Times of India informs.
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign