Kerala landslide toll touches 18 as rescuers dig deeper

Source: PTI | Published on 17th October 2021, 6:38 PM | National News |

Kottayam/Idukki: The toll from disastrous flooding caused by heavy rains and landslides in hilly areas of two central Kerala districts rose to 18 as rescue workers recovered more bodies from the rubbles on Sunday.

State Revenue Minister K Rajan said the rescue workers have recovered 15 bodies from the debris and slush of the landslides that had hit various places of Idukki and Kottayam districts on Saturday.

"The rescue workers have recovered 15 bodies till now. This includes 12 bodies from Koottickal in Kottayam, one body from Peerumedu and two which were recovered yesterday from Kanjar in Idukki district," Rajan told PTI.

Idukki District Collector Sheeba George said three bodies were recovered from Kokkayar in Idukki district today, a hilly region which was heavily hit by yesterday's devastating landslides.

"The search is on for five missing persons," she told PTI.

Officials said the bodies of three children buried under slush were recovered after an intense rescue efforts.

The children, aged eight, seven and four, were found holding to each other, officials said.

Kerala Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan, who visited Kokkayar and Koottickal alleged that the state government failed to launch rescue operations in time in the affected areas.

At Koottickal in Kottayam district, a family of six including a 40-year-old man, his 75-year-old mother, 35-year-old wife and three girl children aged 14, 12 and 10 were killed as their house was swept away in the landslide.

Bodies of three were recovered yesterday and remaining bodies were found by the rescuers during their efforts today.

Meanwhile, the heavy rains subdued a day after it wreaked havoc in the state.

In its forecast, India Meteorological Department said yesterday's Low pressure area over southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Kerala has become less Marked and now seen as a trough from south Interior Karnataka to south Tamil Nadu at lower levels.

"Under its influence, isolated heavy rainfall very likely over Kerala and Mahe on 17th October 2021 and significant reduction thereafter," it said.

Thereafter, a fresh spell of easterly wave is likely to affect south Peninsular India from October 20 and cause fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy falls likely over Kerala from October 20 and likely to continue for subsequent 3-4 days, it added.

Before leaving for Kokkayar in Idukki to coordinate rescue mission, Minister Rajan said the rescue operations are going on at various places as the rains have subdued in the state.

Earlier, an Army team had arrived at the tragedy hit sites and launched a search operation for the missing persons.

"Few people are still stranded as per local sources. Presently no rains however heavily overcast. Madras Regiment from Pangode Military Station commenced the rescue operation at Kavali Village 4 km away from Koottickal, Kottayam District," a Defence spokesperson said.

A Navy chopper reached the affected areas with relief materials.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday urged the people of the state to exercise extreme caution even as the weatherman has withdrawn Red and Orange alerts for the south-central districts of the state and asked the public to follow the instructions of the authorities.

"The weatherman has warned about strong wind and lightning till today evening. Currently, the depression, formed in the Arabian sea, has weakened. However, there are chances that it will rain till evening. Yellow Alert has been issued by the IMD for the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode," Vijayan said in a Facebook post.

He also informed that across the state 105 relief camps have been opened and more camps will be set up if needed.

"NDRF teams have been deployed to Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram districts. Directions have been issued to deploy five additional teams to Idukki, Kottayam, Kollam, Kannur and Palakkad districts. Two choppers of the Air Force from Coimbatore have reached Thiruvananthapuram," Vijayan said.

The Navy helicopter has been deployed to distribute food kits and other essential materials in areas of Koottickal and Kokkayar where landslides have occured.

The higher secondary exams which were scheduled to begin from October 18 has been postponed. The government is yet to announce the new date.

In an early morning operation, NDRF teams have rescued nearly 80 people who were stranded in waterlogged areas of Pathanamthitta district.

Weather officials had said Peerumedu in the hill district of Idukki received 24 cm rains till 5.30 PM on Saturday.

Automatic weather stations in North Paravur reported 38mm rains, Muvattupuzha (89.5mm), Palluruthy (34 mm) and Neeleswaram in Northern Kerala district had received 125.5mm of rain till 8.30 PM on Saturday, they said.

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