In this photo released by the Sri Lankan army on Tuesday, ethnic Tamil civilians who escaped from the LTTE-controlled areas are seen arriving at the government-controlled areas in Putumattalan, north east of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan civilians carrying there belongings stream out of the last sliver of land held by the LTTE in the Mullattivu Region of Sri Lanka in the image taken from TV.
More than 39,000 civilians arrived at military checkpoints on Monday, within hours of a military operation that saw Sri Lankan soldiers break through a barrier that the LTTE had erected to defend their ever-shrinking slice of territory along the northern coast.
The number of fleeing civilians on Monday was the largest in a single day, and that rate was expected to increase on Tuesday as more people made their way out, said military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The sheer number of fleeing civilians made it clear the government had vastly underestimated the number of those caught in the fighting.
Sri Lankan government soldiers patrol a street in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Tuesday.