The constant hum of earth-moving equipment at the base of the Thaikkattumala in Kadavoor village, near here, contrasted sharply with the silence that descended on Kadavoor VHSS grounds as the bodies of the six victims of the landslip were brought for the public to pay their last respects.
The whirr of the machines and constant chatter among the scores of people waiting for the body of the last victim recovered on Sunday came against the backdrop of an imposing hill, part of which came tumbling down in great fury on the afternoon on Friday.
At the Kadavoor VHSS grounds, people spoke in hushed tones and wore grim looks as they shepherded the close relatives of the six victims to the panthal that was erected for the public to pay their last respects to the victims.
Volunteers served water. Some were holding hands with the relatives of the victims or issuing instructions to complete the formalities as quickly as possible to prevent any further delay considering the condition of the bodies.
People sat under shades of trees; others braved a scorching sun out of place in the month of rains. Women and men filed in an orderly manner even without instructions from the volunteers as the queue wove its way around the grounds and spilled onto the road at one point immediately after the bodies were brought in from the Kothamangalam Taluk Hospital.
Blink of an eye
Kunjappan, a daily wage labourer and close friend of Madakkappilly Ipe, who died in the landslip, recalled how another incident of the tumbling mountains had razed nearly two acres of farmland close to the present site of the landslip more than a decade ago. He said there were no houses around at that time and there was no loss of life. This time however, he says, everything happened in the blink of an eye. He said people continued to be in a state of shock considering the scale of the devastation.
He rued that no homes can be built in place of the old ones at the site of landslip because of the loose soil conditions.
The site of the landslip is a scene of great devastation with big granite boulders and huge tree trunks littered along the path the mountain took to rush down.
The government has declared that an assessment of the damage would be done immediately and a package prepared for the rehabilitation of those displaced by the landslip.