24 more persons still missing.
With the recovery of 16 more bodies from the landslip-hit estate area of Pettimudy near Rajamala on Sunday, the total number of deaths increased to 42. As per the official data 24 more persons are still missing from the accident spot where a major landslip on Thursday buried four estate ‘layams, ( living quarters of estate workers).
Despite the adverse climate, including rains and mists hampering the search operation in the hilly terrain, the efforts to drive out water from the area began on Sunday. About 200 members of NDRF were searching the area where three acres of land are completely under the debris.
The access to the earthmovers was difficult as the area was water-logged. A dog squad of the district police also joined the search operation. The sniffer dogs helped in tracing many bodies from the accident area.
Drones were also used to search the area and eight bodies were retrieved from the stream which flowed close to the ill-fated layams where the waterstream from the landslip joined. Seven earthmovers were engaged in removing the debris to search the area.
The recovered bodies were buried at a mass burial site at Pettimudy. A team of doctors were camping at the area and a mobile mortuary was set up to conduct the autopsy.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala on way to Pettimudy said that the compensation amount to the kins of the victims should be increased to ₹10 lakh. He visited the area in the morning.
Union Minister V. Muraleedharan who visited the accident site said the the Central government had announced a compensation of ₹2 lakh each to the kin of the bereveared family. He said he failed to understand the ‘selective assistance’ from the State hinting at the higher amount of compensation announced for the victims of airplane tragedy at Karipur airport. He said that the Chief Minister owed an explanation.
Forest Minister K. Raju, who also visited the spot, said that there were six forest department staff from the layams’ found missing and two bodies were recovered. He assured assistance to the families of the victims.
The adverse climate and lack of electricity hampered the search operation during the night.
District Collector H.Dinesan who visited the spot said that the search operation would continue in the coming days. The area is muddy making the search operations difficult, he said. With favourable weather conditions, the search could be conducted more more effectively, he said.