Even as Kerala grapples with a bout of heavy rainfall, the death toll in the landslide that took place in Idukki district two days ago rose to 43 after rescue officials retrieved 17 more bodies from the debris on Sunday, according to local media reports. Efforts are underway to trace the missing others—estimated to be nearly 20— amid inclement weather conditions.
Authorities have decided to take the help of sniffer dogs to trace the persons buried under the debris, officials told news agency PTI.
Kerala rains: The rain-triggered landslide occurred in the early hours of Friday when a hillock at a tea plantation at Rajamala near Munnar came down, burying a row of quarters of estate workers — 78 people living in 30 rooms. The workers and their families were sleeping and most of them could not escape. Information about the landslide only went out after daybreak as a bridge and roads leading to Rajamala from Munnar were washed away in the downpour and communication networks snapped.
NDRF chief in charge of south Indian state, Rekha Nambiar has been entrusted with the task of leading the 55-member team in the search and rescue mission.
The state government has announced a solatium of Rs 5 lakh to the families of those killed in the landslide. On Saturday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan dismissed the Opposition allegation that there was discrimination in providing compensation to victims of Rajamala landslide and the victims of aircraft crash in Kozhikode. The state government had announced Rs 10 lakh to the families of those who lost their lives in the plane crash.
Vijayan said since the rescue operations were still on for missing persons in the landslide in high range Idukki district and the government was yet to make a final assessment of the loss incurred.
“At Rajamala, we have declared the initial financial assistance. There the rescue operations are not over yet. We need to hold them together as we have the responsibility of taking care of those who lost everything. We also need to ensure their livelihood and rebuild their lives,” Vijayan had said in the press meet.
Revenue Minister E Chandrashekaran and Electricity Minister M M Mani are camping in Idukki and coordinating the rescue operations. The opposition had also criticised the chief minister’s visit to Karipur on Saturday to meet those injured in the air crash but not the landslide victims in Idukki.
Kerala rains: Elsewhere in Kerala, incessant rains, landslides, and opening of shutters of dams across rivers have caused a rise in water level in rivers and streams, especially in central Kerala. Two shutters of the Pamba dam have been lifted following the rise in water levels, Pathanamthitta District Collector PB Nooh confirmed.
Normal life of people living in low lying areas of Kottayam and Alappuzha was affected with flood waters entering their homes. Hundreds of families have been shifted to relief camps from-low lying areas including Kumarakom and Kuttanad regions of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts, officials said.
A red alert warning was sounded by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) for Idukki, Malappuram and Wayanad districts for Sunday.
Alert | August 9th
🌧️ Forecasters predict heavy rains across the State.
🟥 Red alerts for 7 districts: Alappuzha, Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur & Kasaragod
🟧 Orange alerts for 6 districts: Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur & Palakkad. pic.twitter.com/Zjk46YSYBd
In Kottayam district, a car with a man was washed away in floodwaters at Manarcad area in the wee hours of Sunday. The NDRF team has launched a rescue operation for the missing person identified as Justin, a native of Angamaly. He is an airport taxi driver.
Considering the spread of novel coronavirus, the authorities have opened separate camps for different categories of the flood-affected people.
In Ernakulam district, 1,203 flood-affected people have been shifted to relief camps. While 1,118 persons have been lodged in general relief camps, 67 senior citizens are staying in camps for persons above 60 years of age. Eighteen persons are staying in the camps set for quarantined people, district administration officials said.
With PTI inputs