WAYANAD: The Puthumala area at Kalladi, near Meppadi, lies devastated following the landslip that struck on Thursday evening burying an entire stretch of land with its temple, mosque, estate canteen and labourers’ cottages under the soil.
The area, 8 km from Meppadi town, comes under the Sentinel Rock Estate of Harrison’s Estate Limited at Kalladi. There were about 400 houses in the hamlet but only a few people are left in relief camps now, it is learnt. About 100 acres of land has been washed away.
Nine bodies, including that of a boy, were recovered by the rescue workers. Three bodies were shifted to the relief camp at Meppadi. The rescue efforts were led by 49 Army personnel and 20 from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Amidst the heavy rain, moves were afoot to construct a new road to reach the spot with vehicles.
The rescue workers were trying to recover the bodies trapped in mud and debris using logs of trees to keep them above the slush.
Rescue activities were delayed and the severity of the incident came to light late as roads were cut off and the survivors remained in the hills.
K.K. Sahad, Meppadi panchayat president, was near the spot when the incident took place. He had to run away to safety with a few volunteers who came to warn the remaining residents of the locality. About 300 people in the area were shifted on Thursday as there was a slight landslide. “I could only take the visuals and upload them on social networking sites seeking help from the outside world,” said Sahad.
“It happened all of a sudden with a thunderous sound. An entire stretch of a hillock came down with water, slush and rocks,” he added. It was through his video clip that the outside world learnt about the catastrophe.
According to Sahad, the exact number of victims was not known as many migrant labourers were living there. A few families were feared to have been buried alive. “We are trying to identify the missing with the help of the survivors,” he added. “Many were in the labour cottages and the mosque when the landslide struck,” he said.
Many vehicles were washed away by the gushing waters and mud. The toll may be more by the time the slow rescue operations are completed....