Updated: August 13, 2020 12:38:14 am
The toll in the landslide in Kerala’s Idukki district rose to 55 on Wednesday even as 15 others remained buried under debris a week after the incident at a settlement of tea estate workers.
A revenue department official in Idukki said three bodies were retrieved from a river 2 km away from Pettimudi, near Munnar, where the single-room estate quarters stood. The site where the houses of the deceased stood have been rummaged through several times, but did not yield results in the last two days.
Following this, teams of NDRF, police and state fire and rescue shifted their search to the river.
Over the last week, the search had been affected by heavy rains, which continued in the region till Tuesday.
The search gained momentum on Wednesday after a lull in the rains.
After postmortems, the bodies of the deceased were buried in a ground where the children of the estate workers used to play. Of the 80-odd people at the settlement, only 12 survived. Steps are on to relocate 57 other families of the Pettimudi settlement to a safer area, officials said.
Meanwhile, two Covid-19 cases were also reported from the rescue site after an NDRF team member and a mediaperson tested positive on Wednesday. The source of infection could not be traced. Subsequently, 26 mediapersons who were covering the tragedy have been asked to go into quarantine.
Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan are scheduled to visit Pettimudi on Thursday, as per sources.
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