3:12 PM

'Rajarata Rajina' derailed at Hikkaduwa

The passenger train plying from Anuradhapura to Matara was derailed between Sinigama and Hikkaduwa a short while ago. Five passengers are reported to have been killed. The injured have been rushed to the Karapitiya hospital, sources said.

8:24 AM

Troops takeover Mannar 'Rice Bowl'

The advancing Security Forces took total control over the entire Mannar 'Rice Bowl' area this afternoon (June 29), denying terrorists its main and heavily fortified defences at the Mannar front after days of heavy fighting ensued between troops and LTTE.

The capture of this area stands to be a significant breakthrough made by the security forces following the liberation of Periyamadhu area from LTTE on 26th June. According to military Spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, the total area brought under control is approximately 120sq.kms, which mainly consists of the Island's most fertile paddy fields. In 1991, farmers have gathered a record-breaking paddy harvest from this area; the Spokesperson said adding that the famous 'Giants Tank' itself provides water to 153 small irrigation lakes.

Manthai, Manthottam, Adampan, Pallekuli, Kurukkandalkulama, Vellankulama, Vadakkandal, Alankulama, Andankulama, Marattikannadi, Alakaddiveli, Parappakandal. Parappukadatan, Tenveddiyan, Minukkulama, Vilayankulama, Papamoddai, Odduppalan, Kuruvil- Sluice, Neduvarampu, Kannaputtukulama and Vannakulama, were the main areas that was liberated by the security forces as troops are said to have consolidated and poised within striking distances to LTTE's strategically important coastal stronghold in Veddithalthivu.

Further speaking to defence.lk, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that, the capture of the Mannar 'Rice Bowl' and adjacent areas has denied the LTTE 12km of the A-32 Mannar- Pooneryn main road, in addition to the Uyilankulama - Adampan and Uyilankulama - Andankulama main roads, considered to be LTTE's main supply routes from the North.

The LTTE terrorists have also lost 13km of coastal stretch in Mannar, he further said.

The Sri Lankan Army infantry, armour and artillery troops mounted decisive attacks at LTTE positions inflicting heavy damages to the terrorists during the counter terrorist operations launched, with tactical fire support provided by the SLAF helicopter gun-ships, security sources said.

7:23 AM

High-tech bridge for Arugam Bay

The Government will open the new Arugam Bay bridge connecting Pottuvil, Arugam Bay and Panama in the Eastern province, to the public today (June 30).

The bridge constructed at a cost of US $ 10 million, will replace the old bridge over Arugam Bay which was severely damaged in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided financial assistance for the construction of the new state-of -the-art bridge which has been designed and built according to US technology.

According to the Highways Ministry, the new bridge which runs parallel to the old one, comprises two spans measuring 185 metres, and offers user-friendly features like protected pedestrian walkways. The project launched in August 2006 also includes 900 metres of paved access roadway and a water supply system for Arugam Bay.

"We hope that the project will be a major boost for the fishing, agriculture and tourist industries in the areas and thus help the revival of the economy in the East," a Ministry spokesman said.