Kerala rains: 15 dead and 50 missing after landslide in Idukki, ex-gratia announced for victims
By Vivek Raj | Galatta | Aug 07, 2020, 09:38 pm
At least 15 bodies were retrieved by rescuers, who encountered mountainous struggles on Friday to free others under debris with around 50 more feared to be missing in Kerala's Idukki district after heavy rains led to a massive landslide in the area. Officials have stated that the settlement in Rajamalai of Idukki, which primarily had tea estate workers, was the area most severely affected due to the landslide.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took to his Twitter page to issue a statement saying a 50-member team of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) had been deployed as part of the rescue efforts. He tweeted, "An NDRF team has been deployed to rescue the landslide victims in Rajamalai, Idukki. Police, Fire Force, Forest & Revenue officials have been instructed to join the rescue efforts. Another team of NDRF, based in Thrissur, will soon reach Idukki,".
Prime Minister Narenda Modi took to his Twitter page to express his condolences on the unfortunate tragedy. He tweeted, "Pained by the loss of lives due to a landslide in Rajamalai, Idukki. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. NDRF and the administration are working on the ground, providing assistance to the affected." The PMO office has announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the landslide. The tweet reads, "Ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to a landslide in Rajamalai, Idukki. Rs. 50,000 each would be given to those injured due to the landslide."
The settlement in Rajamalai has been hit by a massive landslide, leaving the area buried under a mound of sludge and rock. It is about 25km away from the hill station of Munnar, which as well had seen floods back in 2018. A majority of the residents were believed to be sleeping when the landslide occurred. Around 84 people were reportedly living in the settlement and couldn't escape, local authorities stated.
H Dineshan, Idukki District Collector, said the administration was informed about the accident after one of the workers managed to escape and alerted forest officials at the Eravikulam National Park. Rescue operations were facing obstructions due to the heavy downpour and foggy climate in the area. As many as 16 people were rescued and taken to the hospital immediately.
E Chandrasekharan, State Revenue Minister, said the help of the Indian Air Force has already been sought to airlift those stuck and injured in the landslide. However, they were informed the task would be a difficult one owing to inclement weather. Residents have stated heavy rains have been pouring in the area over the last three days with power and communication networks disrupted due to the downpour.
Another landslide had reportedly taken place en route to the Sabarimala hill temple in Pathanamthitta. It is further stated that the famous Shiva temple in Ernakulam district was almost submerged as well due to the rise in the water level in the Periyar River. A red alert was issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) for extremely heavy rainfall in Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Kottatam and Wayanad districts on August 7 and Idukki, Palakkad, Thrissur and Wayanad districts on August 8.