Death toll reaches 80, Kerala still on rain alert

Volunteers, local residents and members of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) search for survivors in the debris left by a slandslide at Puthumala at Meppadi in the Wayanad district,Kerala. AFP photo

Even as rains have receded in Kerala, the state continues to be on high alert as heavy rains have been forecast for some parts of Kerala in the next few days, due to a low-pressure formation over the Arabian sea.

The death toll reached 80 by Monday evening with six more bodies being recovered.

Four days after the landslide, searches are on in the landslide-hit areas of Kavalapara in Malappuram where 42 persons are still reported missing. Though there are no hopes of finding people alive beneath the debris, relatives hope to see at least the bodies for one last time, to get closure. Emotional scenes prevailed at the area where the rescue operations were progressing, and 17 bodies were recovered, including five on Monday.

Sources say the smell of decomposed bodies is felt in some areas. Sniffer dogs have been pressed into rescue work. The search operations followed the information given by the local residents. Many houses were several feet beneath the debris and it was taking time.

At Puthumala in Wayanad, around ten persons were reported missing. Fifteen bodies were recovered from the area so far. Owing to the vast area of landslide, the rescue work was taking time.

One more body was recovered from Kottakkunnu in Malappuram. Bodies of a mother and child were recovered from the spot on Sunday.

Some parts of Alappuzha in South Kerala, Aluva in Ernakulam and Kannur in North Kerala, the floodwaters have not yet receded.

About 2.8 lakh people are staying at the 1624 relief camps across the state. Heart-wrenching scenes prevailed at the relief camps with the people grieving over their losses, unable to recover from the shock.

The funeral of cousins Aleena and Anagha took place at Kavalapara in Malappuram. The two were found sleeping together when the landslide claimed their lives. Hence the two were also buried together.

Rail traffic was restored in almost all parts of the state by Monday. Roads that were affected due to landslides and uprooting of trees were also cleared.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan would be visiting the calamity-hit areas of Malappuram and Wayanad on Tuesday.

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