India is the first country to come to the aid of rain-battered Sri Lanka; we'll always help: envoy

On Friday noon, a “Gajraj,” carrying 25 tonnes of relief materials, landed at the Bandaranaike International Airport here.

It took nearly five hours to clear the insides of “Gajraj,” Indian Air Force's IL 76 heavy-lift transport aircraft.

The relief package, worth $1 million, consists of dry rations (sugar, pulses, salt and some condiments), ready-to-eat meals, malted food, blankets, mattresses, bedsheets, water purification kits and tablets.

India is the first country to come to the aid of its rain-battered neighbour. “We are your closest neighbour and we will always help in times of need,” said the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ashok K. Kantha, after symbolically handing over the consignment to Basil Rajapaksa, Minister for Economic Development.

After the incessant rains and flooding, which has affected over a million people in central and eastern parts of Sri Lanka, New Delhi responded to a request from Colombo to send urgent relief assistance.

Mr. Basil Rajapaksa thanked the government and people of India for rushing assistance at short notice. He said India was always the first to respond to Sri Lanka's call for assistance.

The second consignment of relief materials from India is expected to reach here on Monday, the Indian High Commission here said in a release.

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