More bodies recovered from landslide debris in Kerala - GulfToday

More bodies recovered from landslide debris in Kerala


Volunteers, local residents and members of NDRF search for survivors in the Wayanad district, Kerala. Agence France-Presse

Ashraf Padanna

Security forces have started retrieving mortal remains of people perished in landslides on Friday in Wayanad and Malappuram districts of Kerala as floodwaters recede.

The death toll has risen to 72 and rescue workers and local people believe many still remain trapped under the debris of scores of homes caved in to landslides.

Most deaths were in Malappuram district (23), followed by Kozhikode (17), Wayanad (12), Kannur (8), Idukki (5), Thrissur (4), Alappuzha (2), and Kottayam (1).

The Cochin International Airport, shut after being flooded on Thursday night, resumed flights Sunday noon. An Indigo flight from Abu Dhabi was the first to land.

Malappuram district collector Jaffer Malik said the army rescue team, which arrived in the morning, retrieved three more bodies from the debris and slush, from Kavalappara.

They include a mother and her child whose grandma is still missing. With this, the total deaths in landslides in this remote village went up to 12.

“We fear some 50 people are still under the debris. The efforts to dig them out are continuing,” he said.

In Puthumala village of Wayanad district, where 17 people were feared dead in landslides, ten bodies were recovered so far, including one on Sunday.

The forces are removing mud and debris using earthmovers in search of the remains as rains subsided.

More than 225,000 people are now living in camps. Some of them are returning home as floodwaters started to recede.

“It is heart-breaking to see what all the people of Wayanad have lost. We will do everything in our power to help them get back on their feet,” Gandhi tweeted.

“Several people are still trapped, and rescue operations are underway, but more help is required immediately.” The Indian Meteorological Department has lifted red alert for the remaining districts of Kannur, Kozhikode and Malappuram.

Now, an orange alert for less heavy rains remains for Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Idukki districts.

Former chief minister Oommen Chandy visited isolated tribal villages of Attappadi in Palakkad district. He promised all support to the authorities in their relief efforts.

Earlier in the day, the chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan held a meeting with senior officials and reviewed the flood situation.

“It gives a little relief that the rains have subsided. Now the search operations will continue at full throttle,” he later told reporters. “But we need to be cautious. It’s not easy to escape from landslides.” He said the water level in the major dams was not a cause of worry as of now. The Idukki Dam, the biggest in the state, presently had only 36.61 per cent of its capacity.

The Southern Railway on Sunday entirely cancelled ten trains and some others ran halfway or diverted as many parts of the tracks are to be cleared.

The road transport from Kozhikode to Mysore and Palakkad and train services on Shornur-Palakkad have been restored. Rail traffic on Kozhikode-Shornur stretch continued to be disrupted as Kallayi and Feroke bridges were found to be unsafe.

However, the rising water level in Kuttanad forced the closure of the Alappuzha-Changanassery road. Vijayan, meanwhile, accused “anti-social elements” of telling people not to contribute to his disaster relief fund for flood victims. There was widespread criticism on social media against more than half of the Rs 43.55 billion in this account remaining unspent even after a year of last year’s floods. Social workers are now collecting food and other essentials like blankets, clothes and sanitary napkins for those left homeless and living in camps as the state failed to do it. “This fund will be used only for the needs of the affected, not anything else. Knowing well about this, it’s unfortunate that negative campaigns are currently on,” he said.

“What we have found out is that the origin of this is from outside our state. The media also has a role in this to ensure that these anti-socials are curbed.” He said the state had not so far asked for funds from the federal government, though it was providing it all the support for the ongoing search and rescue work.

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