MADIKERI: Three people — Yashwanth, Venkatraman and Pavan — escaped death when a massive landslide hit their houses in Katakeri (Kodagu district) early on August 16. But ironically, when they went to assess the damage to their houses a few hours later, another landslide claimed their lives.
The bodies of Yashwanth and Venkatraman were retrieved the same day but Pavan was declared missing by the district administration as the search team could not find his body in the debris. Pavan’s family prayed he was safe somewhere. But their hopes were shattered on Wednesday when his body was brought into their house wrapped in plastic sheets.
“My daughter Dhanyashree (4) and I are orphans now. He did not inform us before leaving for the spot. Where do we go now?” said a devastated Umavathi, Pavan’s wife. Recalling the terrifying moments on August 16, Umavathi said, “We heard a loud sound at 3 am. Fearing for our lives, we fled from there.” Following the loud sound, a massive landslide swept off two houses located on an elevated patch while one house was wrecked partially. Umavathi, Pavan along with their little daughter and some neighbours ran out of their houses and escaped the landslide. But they didn’t know what fate had in store for them.
“Yashwanth, Yatish, Naveen, Manohar, Venkatraman and Pavan -- all residents of the three houses in this landslide-prone area -- went back to the spot at 6 am on August 16 to assess the damage caused to their houses,” said Huderi Rajesh, a member of Katakeri village panchayat. They stood on the loosened soil watching their destroyed houses, when another massive landslide pulled them down under, he said.
Yatish, Naveen and Manohar, however, survived with serious injuries and are being treated at a hospital in Mysuru. But for Yashwanth, Venkatraman and Pavan, it proved fatal. They were pulled under the landslide and were trapped. The bodies of Yashwanth and Venkatraman were retrieved on the same day, but Pavan was declared missing.
The body of Pavan was retrieved by a 30-member team of 10th Battalion NDRF from Andhra Pradesh with guidance from a few locals. “The landslide is still fresh. The muck from the landslide was up till our knee. We received information from the local residents and we started digging around the area that emitted foul smell. In two hours, with the help of equipment and ropes, we retrieved the body,” said Inspector R P Chaudri, the team commander of NDRF.
“We were asked to search this area after being part of the rescue mission at Madapura, Madenadu and Monnageri areas. The terrain, which is filled with loose soil, sludge and rising flood waters is tough for rescue operations,” he added. The search operation which began at 9.30am ended at 12.30 pm with Pavan’s body being carried to his house by the locals.