Tsunami survivors were among some 20,000 people forced from homes and makeshift shelters across Sri Lanka on Tuesday after heavy rains triggered severe flooding, officials said.
The rains badly affected eastern and northern provinces, where hundreds of thousands of coastal residents are still living in wooden shacks and concrete shelters almost a year after their homes were swept away by the tsunami.
Newly installed President Mahinda Rajapakse delayed the planned swearing-in of a new cabinet until Wednesday to focus on emergency relief, his office said.
"Around 4,000 families mainly from the Northern and the Eastern provinces have been affected," said N.D. Hettiarachchi of the National Disaster Management Centre.
"Instructions have been given to move them to different locations like schools and community centres on higher elevations," he added.
In Colombo, many people in residential areas were marooned and unable to get to work along flooded roads after 270 mm (10 1/2 inches) of rain was dumped on the capital. The Colombo stock market opened late to give traders time to reach their office.
The rains were triggered by a low pressure system in the Bay of Bengal,the National Meteorological Centre said.