With 12 more bodies recovered from the mound of debris and slush on Saturday, the casualties in the landslide at a tea estate near Rajamala in Idukki district in Kerala went up to 27 even as rescue personnel, braving inclement weather, continued their search for 42 missing people.
State power minister MM Mani, who is camping at the accident site, admitted that there is little hope for any survivors now. “The situation is really bleak,” he said. The massive landslide took place in the early hours of Friday after a portion of Pettimudi hills caved in razing a colony of tea plantation workers.
The Idukki district administration said missing numbers are likely to go up as many students staying in hostels had returned to their shanties (layams) due to the Covid lockdown. Officials were depending on the employment registry of the Kannan Devan Hill Plantation (KDHP) Limited where they were on the roll, but social workers and local leaders said many like students and guests were out of the registry. “There is some confusion about the exact number of missing,” said Idukki collector H Dineshan.
There are reports a former panchayat member of Munnar Ananda Siva and his 21 members of the extended family are among the missing. Hoping against the hope, relatives have crowded the area and were seen pleading with rescue officials to search particular points. Some of them broke down hysterically saying at least they should get bodie