natural disasters

More than 200 families in central Sri Lanka were missing Wednesday after massive landslides triggered by torrential rains crushed three villages the night before, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society said.

The slides hit the villages of Siripura, Pallebage and Elagipitya in the Aranayake area of Kegalle District.

Citing military spokesman Brig. Jayanath Jayaweera, The Associated Press reports that "16 bodies have already been recovered and about 180 people have been rescued from the enormous piles of mud unleashed at around 5 p.m. [local time] Tuesday."

The leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S. is road accidents — killing nearly 5,000 American kids between the ages of 10 and 19 in 2013.

Suicide also emerges as a risk when puberty hits — affecting more than 5,000 teens and early 20-somethings in the United States alone in 2013.

In Latin America and Mexico, homicide kills the most young adults between the ages of 20 and 24, while in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS kills the largest number.

And in China, drowning tops the list of causes of teenage death.

A series of tornadoes across the Great Plains on Monday killed at least two people and devastated multiple towns.

Homes were demolished, cars flipped over and trees stripped of their bark, according to wire reports.

A wildfire burning in Northern California has destroyed 162 more homes, making it the fourth worst fire in California history.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the fire was 69 percent contained but it was still threatening thousands of other structures.

The Associated Press reports:

At least eight people were reported killed following a powerful earthquake off Chile's coast Wednesday night. The 8.3-magnitude quake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific, from California and Hawaii to New Zealand.

Chile's government ordered a million people to evacuate their homes on the coast, fearing a repeat of a 2010 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 500 people. But fears of a devastating tsunami in Chile eased Thursday morning, and the alert was rescinded.

Gary Davis/KPLU

Washington gets a top grade for being ready to handle disasters. A new study ranks the state among the most adept a wide variety of public health threats, from flood response, handling disease outbreak, and reacting to chemical spills, among other emergencies. But the report warns gains in emergency preparedness could be lost to budget cuts.