Malappuram (Kerala): A week later, the misery at Kavalapara – about 50 kms from here – continues as men and machines work overtime to recover 26 bodies lying deep in the huge pile of mud which till last Thursday was a hillock.
In one of the worst ever landslides that hit the village, an area of more than 75 acres, which was full of rubber trees of multiple homesteads, is now nothing but a muddy place.
With the place being reduced to mud, 45 houses were swept away by the flowing waters which also deposited almost 50 feet of mud that buried 59 people alive.
But it was only after two days that the authorities managed to reach the place which was cut off on account of incessant rains and by then the last hope for any survivors had also disappeared.
Since then, two dozen machines of various sizes and shapes are working furiously moving the mud and the entangled trees to recover the bodies trapped in the sludge along with hundreds of officials from the Army, the National Disaster Response Force and locals.
On Thursday, three bodies was recovered as the total number taken out from the mud touched 33 and the work continues as another 26 are believed to be buried.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, roads in the locality, two bridges and even a fast flowing stream have all borne the brunt of nature’s fury.
Among those who have come and seen for themselves the huge tragedy includes Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Vijayan on Thursday in his address to the state on the occasion of Independence Day recalled Kavalapara where a mosque allowed autopsy of the landslide victims to be conducted within its premises.
“This was an act of the highest standards of secularism and one to be showcased to the nation,” said Vijayan.
On Thursday, State Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel led an all-party meeting to Kavalapara which discussed about how and what needs to be done.
“We will be ensuring the rehabilitation of all the people who have lost their homes and we plan to entrust the building of new homes to an agency. The search operations for the bodies will go on till the last body is recovered,” said Jaleel.
Meanwhile, for the first time in the last few days, the rains that pounded the state for nearly a week appeared to have kept away for the day and was a cause for cheer as more and more people from relief camps across the state headed back to their homes.
According to the latest figures, the death toll has touched 107 as 1.75 lakh people continue to be housed in 1,057 camps across the 14 districts of the state.