Kavalappara landslide: The area
The landslide at Kavalappara occurred a couple of hours after another in Puthumala in neighbouring Wayanad district. The two landslide sites are on either side of a section of the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats, close to Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiri district. Water coming down the hills at Puthumala becomes the Chulika stream, which meanders through gorges and valleys to emerge as the bigger Chaliyar river, which flows by Kavalappara. On August 8-9, the Chaliyar inundated several towns along its banks.
Mud, rocks, trees
The top of the hill remains inaccessible, so the height of the landslide’s crown is yet to be ascertained. A mass of mud, gravel, and boulders came sweeping down, uprooting hundreds of trees along the way.
Kavalappara hill collapses
Around 7.30 pm on August 8, in pounding rain, villagers heard a deafening roar as an entire hillside at Kavalappara in Pothukal village panchayat near Bhoodanam in Kerala’s Malappuram district crumbled.
Buried 50 feet under
The hill settled on a 10-acre are coconut plantation at its base, entirely burying a few dozen homes. There is no estimate of the volume of mud that came down, but state Minister K T Jaleel has said bodies could be buried 50 feet deep.
Malappuram meteorological subdivision got 189.4 mm rain from August 1 to August 7, 66% more than the normal 114.3 mm. On August 8, the Nilambur rain gauge station, the one nearest to Kavalappara, recorded the highest rainfall of that day in Kerala.
17 people from 7 families died after a landslide washed away 10 acres of land in a private tea estate in Puthumala in Meppadi village panchayat of Wayanad district. 53 houses, a mosque, a temple, a shop and two estate-quarters vanished under mud and rocks. The crown of the landslide was 800 ft high. Wayanad meteorological subdivision got 252.3 mm rain from August 1-7 — the most in Kerala during this period, and a 37% departure from the 184.5 mm normal.
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