The bodies of four people who were trapped under a granite quarry collapse near Perumbavoor on Monday were recovered after nearly 36 hours of rescue operations that involved nearly a 100 people working in shifts and removing thousands of tonnes of rubble and large granite boulders from the site.

The bodies were in a mutilated condition. They were identified with the help of clothes worn by the victims.

Those trapped under the quarry collapse were Santosh, 42, from Valayanchirangara; Kallarakkal Mohanan, 49, from Nellad; Rama Kant (Roma), hailing from Orissa; and Cheruvarakkudy Vijayan, 47, from Valayanchirangara.

The bodies were taken to the taluk hospital in Perumbavoor where they were identified. The rescue operations, coordinated by senior officials from the department of revenue, the police and Fire and Safety department, involved 10 to 15 people working at a time and changing over at intervals.

The government has announced a relief of Rs. 2 lakh each to the families of the victims. The quarry, located in Vengola panchayat near Perumbavoor town, collapsed as workers were beginning the day’s operations around 8.45 a.m. The condition of two people, who were injured seriously in the accident, are reportedly stable.

The rescue operators had to work through big boulders, which were blasted and removed by earth-moving equipment and carried out of the quarry bottom by pickup lorries.

Stop memos issued

The mining and geology department has intensified inspection of stone quarries in the wake of the accident at Vengola.

Henceforth, three days in a week will be dedicated to inspection. The department issued stop memos to eight quarries in Muvattupuzha and Kunnathunadu taluks, known for high density of stone quarries, on Wednesday alone. The stop memos have been issued primarily on account of safety violations, mainly absence of safety fencing and failure to remove over burdened soil, and for not having proper licences,” district geologist Manulal P. Ram told The Hindu.

Quarry operators who have been served the memos will be given a time period to rectify the shortcomings, failing which their licence will be cancelled.

Stop memos will be lifted where the quarry operators comply with the directions within the said period.

The condition that issue of fresh licence and renewal of existing licences should be limited to cases where mining does not exceed a depth of six meters will be strictly enforced. Existing quarries with portions yet to exceed that limit will be allowed to carry on with quarrying only after demarcating those portions.

Mr. Ram said that mining sector is very active in the district where various development projects works are underway. The demand will only go up with the Kochi Metro Rail taking off and SmartCity Kochi on the verge of launching the construction work.

He said quarrying remains banned in some areas of the district affected by monsoon calamities. However, it remains permitted in unaffected areas after ensuring that mining is safe.

Quarrying is particularly dangerous during monsoon with the inner structure stability of the quarry becoming more unpredictable owing to the water pressure and concealed joints of the rocks.

Mr. Ram said that he would submit another report to the district collector on the accident on Thursday evening complete with the details of the quarry. A preliminary report was submitted to the collector on Tuesday itself.

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