Mounds of mud and uprooted rubber and aeracanut trees are the remains of two scenic green spots of Kavalappara and Puthumala villages in Kerala which have almost been wiped out in massive landslides that buried several people alive four days ago. The villages, in nearby districts of Malappuram and Wayanad, two of the worst-hit in the heavy rains, now have no signs of any habitation as the houses have been buried under the huge mounds of earth and roads have gone missing.
Those lucky to have escaped from the disaster are looking for missing kin and neighbors as rescue operations by multi-disciplinary personnel were stepped up on Sunday following some respite in rains. Kavalappara was a bustling 10-acre settlement near Nilambur in Malappuram district until four days ago but now been covered by mud and slush, which had got deposited in the area to a depth of about 12 feet.
Local people said there were 35 houses with around 65 people at Kavalappara which always resonated with the happy sounds of children laughing and playing. On the fateful day - on August 8 night, when the landslide occurred, some of the lucky ones managed to run to safety, but around 60 people were feared buied alive.
A woman who rushed home to fetch her sleeping child was among those who could not make it, a man said. An army official, who had come home a day before the incident, is among those missing with his family, they said. Nine bodies were recovered on Saturday and two so far on Sunday morning from the area. The heavy rains, which lashed the area on August 8, had triggered a massive landslide between two mountain valleys bringing down boulders and huge mounds of earth.
Relatives of people missing are also helping in the search operations. The cries of a child was heard four days ago. The entire areas is a "graveyard" now, a local man said adding "we hope their remains are recovered as early as possible".
Sunil, who lost eight members of his family, said: " I heard a loud sound... only my daughter and me could make it to safety... I have lost 8 family members. There was a massive sound as the landslide occurred." Eight earthmovers would be brought to the area on Sunday to remove the loose soil, officials said. Puthumala, located about 20 kms from district headquarters of Kalpetta in Wayanad, was a scenic plantation village with the number of houses, buildings, a temple, and a mosque until it was struck by series of landslides when a hill came tumbling down on August 8 night.
According to revenue officials, search operations with around 250 people from the Army, NDRF and fire force personnel have begun in the area on Sunday morning. Eight people from Puthmala are confirmed missing, the revenue official said. The mud is loose and this was causing difficulty in rescue operations. Personnel from the Army, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), police and fire force pulled out two bodies in Kavalappara and one in Puthumala. In Puthumala, of the 18 people missing, 10 bodies have been recovered so far, officials said.
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