Ranjith Madduma Bandara

Minister Bandara right on number of deaths due to drowning


Deaths reported as being due to drowning are about 800 annually.

Dinamina | May 15, 2019



Fact Check

On 15 May 2019, Dinamina reported Minister of Public Administration, Disaster Management and Rural Economic Affairs Ranjith Madduma Bandara making the above claim.

Exhibit 1 shows that the annual number of cases from 2010 to 2014 in which the cause of death is reported as accidental drowning and submersion. This data from the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) is the latest publicly available data that FactCheck was able to find. FactCheck has not been able to find more recent data from either the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Life Saving Association of Sri Lanka.

According to the data, the five-year average of the number of deaths due to accidental drowning and submersion for period 2010-2014 is 813, and the three-year average for the period 2012-2014 is 786. The minister does not cite a specific year for the number of deaths in his statement, but cities an annual rate. In the absence of more recent data for 2015 onwards, the most recent data for the period 2010-2014 aligns with the minister’s claim.

Therefore, we classify his statement as TRUE.

*FactCheck’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck will revisit the assessment.

Exhibit 1: Number of deaths caused by accidental drowning and submersion


Additional Note

The Vital Statistics Report 2008 – 2017 from the RGD provides the same figures as the DCS for 2010 and 2013, but no additional figures for years after that. A WHO report from 2014, entitled the "Global Report on Drowning: Preventing a Leading Killer", ranks Sri Lanka's drowning rate as the 12th highest of 61 countries, and the 10th highest of 35 low-income and middle-income countries. However, this report only uses data on Sri Lanka from 2006 and gives the number of deaths due to drowning during that year as 932. Another report on drowning was published by the Life Saving Association of Sri Lanka in partnership with Life Saving Victoria, with the assistance of the WHO, in December 2014. This publication reports that the average number of deaths due to drowning from 2001 to 2006 and 2009 was 855. It does not provide statistics for later years.