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Kerala landslides toll rises to 22, rescue efforts continue

The state government has announced a relief package of Rs 4 lakh each for the dependents of the victims who perished in the landslides at Koottickal village in Kottayam and Kokkayar in Idukki.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: October 18, 2021 8:12:27 am
A woman, whose house was damaged in a landslide, at Plappally in Kottayam district. (PTI)

A day after rain triggered massive landslides in Kerala’s Kottayam and Idukki districts, officials said Sunday the death toll had risen to 22, even as rescue workers rummaged through debris.

As many as 105 relief camps have been set up in various districts as the rain subsided on Sunday. However, a red alert has been sounded for seven dams where the water level is rising. The state government has announced a relief package of Rs 4 lakh each for the dependents of the victims who perished in the landslides at Koottickal village in Kottayam and Kokkayar in Idukki.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and inquired about the situation, the CMO said in statement, adding that the Prime Minister has promised all required assistance to the state.

Shops near the Kootickal Causeway destroyed by the heavy rainfall.

Vijayan said NDRF units have been deployed in five districts and directions have been given to deploy more units in other districts. Navy choppers have been used to drop food packets to the stranded at Koottickal and Kokkayar in Idukki.

At Koottickal, a six-member family, including three minors, was wiped out when a portion of a hill behind their house slid down with trees and slush and fell on the house on Saturday. At Kokkayar, meanwhile, Cheripurath Fousiya shared a video of the heavy flow of rainwater near her house. Minutes later, she and her two minor daughters were caught by the landslide.

Rescue workers coming out with a body in Kavaly, Kootickal.

State minister V N Vasavan, who was coordinating search operations in Kottayam, said the bodies of 13 persons missing from the district in the landslide have been recovered. Although all bodies have been retrieved, rescue operations are to continue in the Kanjirapally region, where roads have to be restored on a war footing. Meanwhile, in Kokkayar, where nine bodies have been recovered so far, search operations are on for two missing persons, including a child, he said.

Aerial survey of Koottickal by Navy helicopter.

The rescue operations are being led by the state fire and rescue teams, NDRF units and Armymen. Three columns of the Army were deployed for search operations.

A defence spokesperson said that despite the harsh and inclement weather conditions, the Army reached the spot within a few hours of requisition and has since been employed in assistance to the civil administration. The recovery operation was made more difficult by the fact that the team had to clear the entire area of affected landslide only after the road was cleared for the movement of earth movers.

Search operation for missing persons continues in Kavaly, Kootickal.

The IMD said Saturday’s low-pressure area over southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Kerala has become less marked and now seen as a trough from south Interior Karnataka to south Tamil Nadu at lower levels. Under its influence, isolated heavy rainfall was very likely over coastal Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu on Sunday and would see a significant reduction thereafter.

The IMD said a fresh spell of easterly wave is likely to affect south Peninsular India from October 20 and would cause fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy falls likely over Kerala, south interior Karnataka and Tamil Nadu from October 20, which would be likely to continue for 3-4 days.

 

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