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Monday, September 21, 2020

Kerala: 15 die as rain triggers landslide

Hillock comes off in Idukki tea garden, buries worker homes; 48 still missing.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | August 8, 2020 3:00:11 am
Rivers have overflowed in Kottayam, Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta districts in central Kerala. (Source: Kerala PRD)

At least 15 persons have been killed and 48 others are still missing after heavy rain triggered a landslide at Rajamala near Munnar in Kerala’s Idukki district on Friday. The landslide occurred in the early hours of Friday when a hillock at a tea plantation came down, burying a row of quarters of estate workers — 78 people living in 30 rooms. The workers and their families were sleeping and most of them could not escape.

As a bridge and roads leading to Rajamala from Munnar were washed away in the downpour and communication networks snapped, information about the landslide only went out after daybreak. Local people managed to rescue 15 people, who have been hospitalised with serious injuries. Rescue teams led by NDRF reached the spot in the evening. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that the state had taken steps to shift people out of landslide-prone areas. “But the landslide at Rajamala was unexpected as that area had not been identified as prone to landslides. If required, the state would seek the assistance of the Army and Navy. In the wake of the mishap at the estate, all district collectors have been asked to ensure safety of people living in estate quarters in the state,’’ he said. Elsewhere in Kerala, several towns have been inundated after rivers overflowed due to heavy downpour for the third consecutive day. Rivers have overflowed in Kottayam, Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta districts in central Kerala. People have been shifted to relief camps in areas close to the rivers in keeping with Covid-19 protocols.

On August 8 last year, 30 people were killed in a landslide at Meppadi village in Wayanad district. Several people were relocated from the area two days ago after heavy rain began.

The Chief Minister told the media that the Met Department has predicted extremely heavy rain in a few places in the state in the coming days. Red alert has been declared in Idukki, Malappuram and Wayanad districts, he said, adding that 17 dams in the state have been opened.
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the next of kin of those killed in the incident and all those injured will be provided free treatment.

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