Kerala landslide: Toll rises to 48

Thiruvananthapuram: The death toll due to landslide in Kerala’s Idukki district rose to 48 today, as five more bodies were retrieved from under the debris.

Four days after the settlements of estate workers were swept away by devastating landslides at Pettimudi near Rajamala in Idukki, various agencies engaged in the rescue operations recovered more bodies today.

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

The landslide on Friday had taken away 30 houses in four tea estate layams (workers’ quarters). At least 82 people were reported missing, of whom only 12 could be rescued. Bulldozers and other equipment were used on Sunday to clear the huge boulders, mud and slush in the area where houses of the plantation workers stood.

Forest Minister K Raju, who visited the spot on Sunday, said the search would continue till all the missing persons are accounted for. ‘All agencies of the state and a 200-strong NDRF team are actively engaged in the search, which has been expanded now. Incessant rain and poor visibility have affected the search,’ he said.