15 tea estate workers killed, over 50 missing as torrential rains trigger massive landslide in Kerala’s Munnar

South India

As many as 12 persons have been rescued from under the debris and condition of four are said to be critical

As many as 15 persons including five women and two children were killed and over 50 are missing after heavy rains triggered massive landslide in Munnar of Idukki district of Kerala post-midnight on Thursday.

The incident occurred in the Tata Tea-owned Kannan Devan tea estate at Ramala, some 20 km from Munnar hill station in Idukki district.

Munnar MLA S Rajendran said that bodies of 15 persons have been recovered and it is feared that over 50 people are still trapped under the debris.

The deceased have been identified as Gandhiraj (48), Sivakami (38), Visal (12), Ramalakshmi (40), Murukan (46), Mayil Sami (48), Kannan (40), Annudurai (44) and Rajeswari (43). The identity of others is yet to be established.

As many as 12 persons have been rescued from under the debris and condition of four are said to be critical. The critically injured have been shifted to a hospital in the neighbouring Ernakulam district.

About 20 families were living in the residential quarters in the tea estate and all these quarters were fully destroyed in the landslide.

Rescue operations are underway in full swing even as heavy rain and lack of equipment including earth moving vehicles hampering the rescue works. Local people, police, fire force personnel and NDRF personnel are jointly conducting the rescue operations in the area.

There was no power supply in the entire locality for the past three days and due to this, there was no communication means to contact the outer world. Again, a bridge on a rivulet that connects the area with Munnar was washed away in the flood. These factors delayed the commencement of rescue operations, which gained pace around 1 pm on Friday. Till then, local people were conducting the rescue operations.  

According to a local resident, huge boulders and mud along with gushing water fell on the residential quarters of tea estate workers around midnight when they were asleep. He said that about 80 people were living in the residential quarters.

The outside world came to know about the tragedy about five hours later when some of the residents who survived the mishap managed to reach the nearby forest office.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams from Elappara, Kochi and Thrissur rushed to the spot to speed up the rescue operations.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted that a second team, based in Thrissur, was also en route and police, fire service personnel and forest and revenue officials had been instructed to join rescue efforts.

Image credit: Malayala Manorama

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