Kerala rains 2020 | Search for bodies resumes at site of Idukki landslide

Rescue work was stopped late on Friday due to adverse climate and hilly terrain

Updated - August 08, 2020 02:26 pm IST

Published - August 08, 2020 12:39 pm IST - IDUKKI

The team of National Disaster Response Force, with the support of Fire and Rescue Services personnel and police, continued the rescue work.

The team of National Disaster Response Force, with the support of Fire and Rescue Services personnel and police, continued the rescue work.

It was a hill of verdant green that was razed to the ground with boulders of rocks and earth fallen over the four ‘layams’ (living quarters of estate workers) at Pettimudy near Rajamala inside the Eravikulam National Park (ENP) late on Thursday. The search for bodies of nearly 50 persons buried in the rubble resumed on Saturday.

The District Collector confirmed that 23 persons died in the landslip. One person, who was rescued on Friday, remains critical and was undergoing treatment at Kolencherry Medical College Hospital.

Five doctors are conducting post-mortem on the site. The downpour has subsided and if the weather is favourable, the plan is to continue the search through the night, said District Collector H Dineshan.

The rescue work was stopped due to adverse climate and the hilly terrain on Friday night after 18 bodies were recovered.

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The team of National Disaster Response Force, with the support of Fire and Rescue Services personnel and police, continued the rescue work on Saturday. “There was heavy rainfall which hampered the rescue work and it is expected that the work will be completed by Saturday evening,” said a Revenue Department official who is with the rescue team.

District Collector H. Dinesan told The Hindu on Saturday morning that a full-fledged search operation was started and weather conditions had improved. He said that one body was recovered on Saturday morning and it is believed that 48 bodies are under the rubble.

The Nayamakkad tea plantation is located inside the ENP and the only road to the place is through Rajamala. The layams are between Rajamala and Pettymudy, which is the entrance to Edamalakkdudy grama panchayat inside the Munnar forest division.

The news of the tragedy came to light only on Friday morning due to the inaccessibility of the area. In addition, the temporary bridge at Periyavarai was washed away in the floods, which made it difficult to access the area from Marayur.

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A pall of gloom engulfed the area, with relatives anxiously checking if it was their dear one when each body was dug out. Most of the victims are of Tamil origin, living there for three generations.

Twelve persons who survived the tragedy and four of the injured were admitted to the Tata General Hospital in Munnar. The condition of three of them was stated to be serious.

A senior police official said that measures were taken to conduct the autopsy and hand over the bodies to the relatives after adhering to the COVID-19 protocol.

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The death toll in the Pettimudy landslip rose to 22, with the recovery of four more bodies by Saturday noon. The search operation was continuing and arrangements were done to conduct the mass autopsy at Pettimudy itself. The management of the tea estate has provided land at Pettimudy for mass burial of the victims.

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