Thiruvananthapuram: At least eight persons were killed and around 60 others reported missing after a landslide at Rajamalai in Idukki district due to heavy rain for the past four days in the hilly area, an official said on Friday.
The place where the tragedy took place late on Thursday night is about 30 km from the popular tourist destination of Munnar.
Officials said a 200-member team of Kerala Police had reached the spot for rescue work. At the time of filing of this report, 12 persons had been rescued and eight bodies recovered.
The women residents of the locality work in tea estates in the area, while most men work as jeep drivers. The authorities got to know of the tragedy after two residents reached a nearby forest station and informed officials late in the night on Thursday.
Deepan, one of the four survivors admitted at a hospital in Munnar, was teary-eyed. He 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 Kottayam 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 Kerala government’s efforts to get an air rescue team to the spot failed due to inclement weather. However, two teams of National Disaster Response Force are on way to the spot.
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.