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Kerala: Death toll in Idukki landslide reaches 48, dozen more missing; search ops enter 4th day

While the Kerala government has announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the bereaved families, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced Rs 2 lakh for each family.

SNS | New Delhi |

The death toll in the massive landslide at Rajamala in Kerala’s Idukki district, triggered due to heavy rainfall in the last few days, has risen to 48 as five more bodies were retrieved on the fourth day of search operations on Monday.

As many as 17 more bodies including that of a 6-month-old baby were recovered as over 200 members of NDRF, police, fire, forest and revenue officials as well as the local people and a medical team continued search and rescue operations for the third day on Sunday.

Even now, at least a dozen more are feared to be missing in the landslide that devoured a huge settlement in Rajamala’s Pettimudi where tea estate workers have been statying.

Despite adverse weather conditions in Pettimudi, rescue operations by NDRF, fire and police department personnel are continuing to recover bodies of more people feared trapped in the landslide, officials told PTI.

The likelihood of finding bodies in good condition is fading fast considering that the bodies have been under mud and rubble for 4 days since the occurring of the incident and also because they have been dragged down long distances.

As many as 20 houses with nearly 70 to 80 people staying in them are said have been reportedly buried under the mud.

As many as 12 people have been rescued.

Torrential rains pounded Pettimudi in Rajamala in the high range Idukki district, triggering a landslide on Thursday night. About 30 km from the popular tourist destination of Munnar, the tragedy took place when big boulders came down on four lines of estate houses.

While the Kerala government has announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the bereaved families, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced Rs 2 lakh for each family.

Meanwhile, the opposition Congress is demanding a raise in the compensation amount to Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the dead while accusing Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of showing favouritism toward the Kozhikode plane crash victims.

“Compensation should be given to those killed in the flight crash but the same consideration should be given to the people of in Pettimudi,” Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala told reporters.

Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan also visited Rajamala, the site of landslide, to inspect the rescue operations on ground.

Terming it as a “very tragic incident”, the minister conveyed his condolences to the families of the deceased.

“Kerala is considered a developed state but the pathetic condition in which the plantation workers live should be an eye-opener to the government. I am sure urgent efforts will be made by the state government,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Meanwhile, a member of the fire force team from Alappuzha, involved in rescue operations, has been declared COVID-19 positive sparking concerns among the authorities. All those who have been in contact with the personnel have been asked to go into quarantine as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, heavy rains continue to lash many parts of Kerala amid predictions of extremely heavy rainfall in six districts by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Incessant rains, landslides and opening of shutters of dams across rivers have led to rise in water levels in rivers and streams in central Kerala, aggravating the flood situation.