Sniffer dogs roped in as toll in Kerala landslide rises to 28
Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent
Many tea workers still missing as rain hampers rescue mission
Rescue workers on Saturday used heavy machinery to search for missing people buried under mud after a landslide swept a tea plantation in Pettimudy in Kerala. (AFP)
Kochi: The toll in the massive landslide that destroyed a row of 20 houses of tea estate workers in Idukki district of Kerala on Friday rose to 28 on Sunday with two more bodies being retrieved from the rubble.
Three days after the settlements were swept away by a devastating landslide at Pettimudi near Rajamala, the authorities have now decided to use sniffer dogs to trace bodies buried under the debris.
According to the government, 78 people were living at the spot where the tragedy occurred. While 12 workers were rescued, 28 bodies have been found so far. Officials said efforts were on to find the others.
The incident occurred in the early hours of Friday when a huge mound of earth fell on the houses. Two children and five women were among the deceased, most of whom were plantation workers from Tamil Nadu.
The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) has a 55-member team carrying out the search and rescue mission.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert for Idukki, Malappuram and Wayanad districts on Sunday. Incessant rains have led to a rise in the water level in rivers and streams in central Kerala.
Normal life in low-lying areas of Kottayam and Alappuzha has been affected with flood waters entering people's homes.
Low-lying areas in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts have been flooded. Hundreds of families have been shifted to relief camps in the Kumarakom and Kuttanad regions of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts, they said.
An man driving a car was washed away in flood waters in the Manarcad area in Kottayam district early on Sunday. The NDRF team has launched a rescue operation for the missing person, who has been identified as Justin, a native of Angamaly and an airport taxi driver.
In view of the coronavirus pandemic, authorities have opened separate camps for different categories of flood-affected people.
In Ernakulam district, 1,203 flood affected people have been shifted to relief camps.
While 1,118 persons have been lodged in general relief camps, 67 senior citizens are staying in camps for persons above 60 years of age. Eighteen persons are staying in the camps set for quarantined people, district administration officials said.