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Villagers yet to recover from shock

By N. J. Nair

A tree which fell on top of a house in Neyyattinkara taluk in strong winds. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

NEYYATTINKARA, JUNE 14. The residents of Kollavam Vila in Neyyattinkara taluk have not yet recovered from the shock inflicted by the nature's fury that destroyed 46 houses and crops on Sunday morning. A 72-year-old woman, Meenakshi, died out of shock on seeing a tree falling over her daughter's house.

The strong winds that blew around 5-45 a.m. that day lasted only minutes, but uprooted coconut palms, rubber and many other huge tress in about 1 km radius.

The plantain orchards, trees and houses in the surroundings remain unaffected. The locals still could not make out how the gale lashed a small area within a very short span of time. They are living under constant fear; as yet another spell of windstorm is likely to destroy their houses and crops. The majority of the residents are labourers and they are at a loss to find out means to rebuild their houses that were dilapidated in the rain and wind.

According to Livins Kumar, a social worker who is actively involved in the relief activities, the number of casualties would have gone up had the incident occurred 30 minutes later. "Being a holiday all those in the area were asleep and did not run out of their houses on seeing the trees falling down. Those who woke up also stayed indoors and a major tragedy was averted," he said.

Laila, a housewife, still trembles on recollecting the incident. Her husband, George, had left for work early morning. Laila and her three children, Bobby, Bobbin and Soumya were fast asleep when a huge tree fell on their house. Bobby sustained injuries and has been admitted to Neyyatinkara Taluk Hospital. The roof of the house collapsed but all others had a narrow escape. George had recently availed of a loan of Rs. 10,000, to improve the house and now the family is hoping to get Government assistance to rebuild the house.

Kamalam and her two children aged three and four too were also sleeping inside their two-room thatched tenement. Her husband, Vijayan, was away and when a tree fell over the house, she lay over her children to protect them. Vijayan rushed to spot later and pulled them out of the hut with great effort. None of them was injured. Manian and Thankappan who lost their houses are some of the victims who looking forward for Government relief to reconstruct their houses.

Almost all the residents in the locale sought refuge in the relief camp on Sunday night out of fear. They are still scared of returning home. Those in the relief camp have a word of praise for the local MLA, Thampanoor Ravi, who reached the spot around 7 a.m. The revenue, police and medical personnel reached there on time at the behest of Mr. Ravi and rendered all possible assistance to the victims.

The Chief Minister, A. K. Antony, has sanctioned free ration and medical care too is being provided to the victims. Officials of the Revenue and Agriculture departments today visited the spot and started assessing the damage. Steps are being taken to disburse the compensation at the earliest, Mr. Ravi said.

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