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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - The death toll from strong winds and monsoon rains across the Sri Lanka's coastal-belt rose to 27 while another 29 fishermen are missing.

The navy is searching for the 29 fishermen and more than 32 boats missing since heavy monsoon rains and winds hit early Saturday, said Pradeep Kodippili, a spokesman for the government's disaster management center.

He said fishermen have been hardest hit by the extreme weather, accounting for all but one of the dead. Another 35 fishermen have been injured, Kodippili said.

The meteorology department has issued a warning of bad weather with strong winds because of the southwest monsoon.

The Sri Lankan navy and air force deployed three ships and two helicopters for a joint rescue operation and were able to rescue 20 fishermen in the rough seas.

Spill gates of four major reservoirs that generate hydroelectricity were opened late Saturday to prevent damages to the gates, a government statement said.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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