Pettimudi landslide: 17 bodies recovered, search operations underway for missing 47
Munnar: At least 17 persons were killed and around 47 others reported missing when a mound of earth caved in on a row of houses of tea estate workers at Pettimudi in the high range Idukki district early Friday morning as heavy rains pounded the area triggering a landslide.
17 bodies have been recovered. The deceased were identifed as Gandhiraj (48), Sivakami (38), Vishal (12), Ramalakshmi (40), Murukan (46), Mayilswami (48), Kannan (40), Annadurai (44) and Rajeswari (43), Kousalya (25), Thapasiyammal (42), Sindhu (13), Nidheesh (25), Paneerselvam (50) and Ganesan (40).
47 people are suspected to be trapped under the soil, burying as many as 30 houses of plantation workers.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condoled the death of 15 persons in Pettimudi here following the landslide. He announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the families of the deceased persons. Speaking to media, CM also said that government will bear the treatment expense of the people injured in the disaster.
Crime Branch IG Gopesh Aggarwal has been entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating rescue operations.
12 people have been rescued and 1 among them is in critical condition. Deepan (25), Seethalakshmi (33) and Saraswati (50) are admitted to Munnar Tata hospital and Palaniyamma (50) at Kolenchery medical college hospital.
Deepan said he had no clue about his father and his wife who were with him in their house when the landslide occurred. His mother has, however, been moved to the Medical College Hospital in a serious condition.
"For the past 10 days, it has been pouring. The landslide occurred around 10.30 pm on Thursday. I do not know about my father, wife, and my brother's family. There are three rows of houses in the cluster where around 80 people live. Do not know what has happened to them. Around 30 jeeps too were buried under the landslide," Deepan said.
The state health department has dispatched 15 ambulances and a special medical team to provide medical assistance to those affected by the landslides in Idukki. Officials said a 200-member team of Kerala Police had reached the spot for rescue work.
Meanwhile, the office of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has contacted the Air Force seeking its helicopter for the rescue mission in Idukki.
"The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been deployed for the rescue operations in Idukki. The team was already stationed in the district. Another NDRF team from Thrissur was also directed to move to Idukki," Vijayan said in a Facebook post.
The Kerala government's efforts to get an air rescue team to the spot failed due to inclement weather. The biggest problem is that all communication lines to the area have been snapped and roads to the hilly area blocked due to uprooting of trees, officials said.
State Power Minister MM Mani, who hails from the district, said that the landslide had occurred at a place where tea estate workers were staying. He said that the details are awaited as the terrain at the spot is very inhospitable.
"I will not quote any figure as I do not have sufficient information. The place is at the top of a hill. We are awaiting a response; the local legislator is also going to the spot. All emergency services have been pressed into service," Mani said.
Meanwhile, area resident Parthasarathy earlier told the media that he was aware of three rows of houses inhabited by around 80 tea estate workers and their families.
"But we do not know how many were present when the landslide occurred. I feel that many of the workers were at their respective homes due to heavy rain in the past few days. Moreover, communication with the area too has been snapped, including electricity supply," said Parthasarathy.
Revenue Minister E Chandrasekheran said that he is in touch with the Idukki revenue officials and that emergency rescue teams are on way to the spot. Information on the tragedy is being collated, he added.
The India Meteorological Department had issued a red alert for Idukki on Friday, indicating extremely heavy rainfall of over 20 cms.
Munnar MLA S Rajendran told the media that it was difficult to reach the spot as a bridge which provided access to the area was washed away in the rains.
"At least 200-300 people live there. There are many lanes and a canteen at the location. We are yet to receive further details. Since one of the bridges to that area was destroyed last night, it has become difficult to access the region," he added.
"Also, those who are there are finding it difficult to contact us because the only mobile tower there is not functioning properly due to power failure," Rajendran said.
Rescue operations are underway.
(With inputs from agencies)