COLOMBO http://www.columbusbluejacketsteamstore … lak-jersey , Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka's presidential elections will not be deferred by torrential floods that have swept many parts of the island over the past few days, killing 24 people with eight missing, an official said on Monday.

Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said the decision to hold the presidential election on Jan. 8 would not be changed because of the inclement weather condition experienced in the country.

"No candidate, their representative or lawyers had complained or requested in this regard to the department," he told reporters.

However, distribution of official ballots for the upcoming presidential election on Jan. 8 has been extended by three days due to the prevailing adverse weather, the election secretariat said.

The distribution of official ballots has been reportedly halted in several districts affected by the inclement weather.

According to estimates by State-run Disaster Management Center (DMC), nearly 800,000 people have been affected while about 80,000 people have been displaced and are housed in shelters.

"The government has instructed the relevant authorities to take immediate measures to ensure relief for the families hit by the bad weather. So far an estimated 2.7 million U.S. dollars have been disbursed by the government for relief measures," Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told reporters.

Landslide warnings have been issued to 11 districts and trains to the central region have been suspended after earth mounds and boulders collapsed onto the track in several places.

Thousands have been evacuated by army and navy officials, including from tourist hot spots such as the north central town of Anuradhapura where ancient temple ruins are a popular attraction.

The towns of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa in the north central province are also home to some of Sri Lanka's largest rice cultivations with hundreds of dams scattered around the region to provide water in the usually arid region.

Lashed by heavy showers for days as many as 300 of these dams have reached spill level forcing sluice gates to be opened, threatening people living downriver.

More than 7000 army personnel have now been deployed in flood- affected areas in more than five districts to provide rescue and relief operations.

US online retail giant Amazon has set up shop on the business-to-consumer platform of Alibaba as it seeks a greater presence in the massive Chinese market.

The Seattle-based firm is offering food, women's footwear, toys and kitchenware through its store on Tmall which was "quietly" launched on Thursday, Chinese media reported. Amazon's storefront carries the message: "It's Day 1."

Amazon and Alibaba are considered competitors in some areas but unlike the US firm the Chinese company has no product stocks of its own, simply providing a trading platform.

"We welcome Amazon to the Alibaba ecosystem and their presence will further broaden the selection of products and elevate the shopping experience for Chinese consumers on Tmall," an Alibaba spokeswoman said in a statement provided to AFP Friday.

Tmall is estimated to hold more than half the market in China for business-to-consumer transactions.

Amazon is not new to China. It opened an official store on Tmall for its Kindle e-book reader last year.

The firm made its first foray into China in August 2004 through the acquisition of Joyo, an online retailer of books, music and videos. The website was re-branded as Amazon in 2011.

"China's e-commerce industry is fast-growing and nobody wants to miss it," Yang Xiao of e-commerce services provider HC International told AFP. "Amazon wants to add an additional distribution channel in China."

He said the move could be aimed more at China's JD, which has a similar business model to Amazon and also competes with Alibaba.

"It's simple game logic -- an enemy's enemy is a friend," Yang said. "Amazon is more likely targeting JD and it's a win-win situation for Tmall."

Amazon is initially selling nearly 500 items, with more expected to be made available later.

As of Friday morning, the top sellers on the Amazon store included a 220-yuan ($36) German drinks container, and canned almonds imported from the US with a price tag of 44 yuan ($7).

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