Landscape of Wayanad's Puthumala village altered by huge landslide
Wayanad: Often referred to as the poor man's Ooty, Meppadi in Kerala's Wayanad district has seen its entire look change after a massive landslide triggered by heavy rains and floods. Over 1,000 people are marooned in the area.
Since the past two days, residents of Meppadi's Puthumala village, mostly tea estate workers, are facing the brunt of heavy rains and the floods in their wake, which have devastated the settlement.
"Following the landslide, the small hill on which Puthumala stands - between two big hills - is now just a pile of mud and water. Such has been the destruction," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media in Thiruvananthapuram.
A woman victim said the landslide occurred in a flash. "My husband, my child and I were witness... it all began with a huge sound and the next moment we were all running away to safety," she said.
A mosque, two temples and several houses in which tea estate labourers stay have all buried. As the landslide occurred, people started running to safety and their first place of refuge was the local forest office. By now, around 1,000 people have been moved to relief camps in nearby areas.
Around 500 of those marooned in Meppadi have been moved to relief camps. A medical professional of the state government who is giving the required medical attention told the media that even though there are no serious ailments, all of them are in a state of mental shock.
Spotted in a relief camp were a young couple from Assam who said they are lucky to have survived this tragedy.
"We ran holding hands, leaving whatever little belongings we had in our small home. It was scary," the young Assamese woman said in Hindi.
At one of the relief camps, several people were seen wailing as they were trying to locate their kin. "We have escaped the fury but I do not know where my husband is," said a middle-aged woman, clutching her son's hands.
With the area still cut-off, the rescue team has so far recovered seven bodies which include a young child from the debris. Another 14 people are reported missing. The Kerala government has deputed State Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran and State Ports Minister K. Ramachandran to Wayanad.
"This is an untold story of misery that we are seeing and all efforts would be made to make life comfortable for the thousands of victims who have lost so much," Saseendran told the media.
As per latest reports, there has been 260 mm of rainfall in Wayanad -- the parliamentary constituency of former Congress President Rahul Gandhi. In Wayanad alone, close to 10,000 people are holed up in various relief camps.