Landslips triggered by heavy downpour claimed six lives in the high range Idukki district of Kerala on Monday.

Five persons were killed and many others are feared buried under rubble after the earth caved in over vehicles and shops at Cheeyappara, near Kothamangalam, on the Kochi-Munnar road on Monday.

The bodies of the five persons were recovered from under the rubble.

In separate landslips elsewhere in Idukki district since Sunday night, eight others were killed, taking the toll to 13. Four persons who were rescued at Cheeyappara were rushed to the Adimaly government hospital. The condition of one of them is stated to be serious.

Search and rescue operations are under way despite heavy rain that has made the effort extremely difficult.

Those killed in the landslip were Rajan, driver at the Devikulam taluk office; Thoppilkudy Josy, and Palakkad resident Jibin and two unidentified persons.

Those trapped in the mass of rubble that crashed down from a height of around 20 feet included tourists who had stopped over to watch rescue operations following an earlier landslip, and rescue workers, who were engaged in clearing the road.

A mini tourist bus, a jeep belonging to the revenue department and a few motor cycles were buried in the rubble from the landslip or swept away in the flash floods that followed in its wake.

Police and Fire and Rescue Service personnel from Adimaly and Neriyamangalam, with the support of the local people, are continuing the rescue operations. The landslip occurred between 7.30 a.m. and 8 a.m., said Janardhanan, a casual worker with the National Highways Authority.

He said that he was clearing the debris of a minor landslip near here when the second one occurred. He rushed to the spot to find that an entire hill had caved in, completely blocking the road. Hasainar, a driver, one of those who reached the spot first, said that he could not initially comprehend what had happened as out of the nearly 20 shops in the area, 10 were buried beneath the rubble.

Aliyar, a fire and rescue service personnel, said that the human toll could have been reduced had the tourist vehicles not halted to watch the first landslip. It was during that time that the hill caved in over their vehicles.

It was a tough time for the police to control the bulging crowd which reached the area. The continuing rain also hampered the rescue operations.

In a landslip at Thadiayanpadu near Cheruthoni, two sisters were killed when earth caved in on their house.

More In: Kerala | National | Kochi | News