PUTHUMALA: Puthumala was a tea-estate village in Wayanad buzzing with activities until Thursday evening, but a landslide has made it silent, washing away almost every single life there in a flash. Remnants of houses are floating in the water which now flows as if nothing has happened.
Seven bodies, including of women and children, have been recovered so far, and they all were natives of Puthumala in Meppadi grama panchayat. Several more are believed to be under the debris.
The number, many fear, could be close to 50.
There is panic all around as nearby Chooralmala and Mundakai are also under threat, with showers coming down thick and fast. Evacuation is on, but difficult.
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Puthumala post office, Chamundeshwary temple, Puthumala mosque, Harrison Malayalam tea estate canteen, a playground and many houses were washed away.
“Avaran and Aboobacker were heading for Pachakkad in their white car when water came gushing down the hill. I saw the current sweeping the car away, bringing it back and then away again,” Abid P M, an eyewitness, told Express.
Both of them are missing. So are eight others Abid knows personally in the neighbourhood.
“There isn’t any information either about two Tamil Nadu natives who came to visit the estate welfare officer,” he said.
Two padees (settlements) of tea-estate labourers went with the water. Labourers from Madhya Pradesh, however, are believed to be safe.
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“The landslide occurred in the high range of Pachakkad at 4.15pm. As it was evening, there were many labourers in the canteen,” said P Ravi of Chooralmala.
Divisional Forest Officer (Social Forestry) M Rajeevan, who was on the spot, said they are fast shifting the people to Meppadi as landslide threat still looms.
“Searching in the debris isn’t possible now due to the threat as well as the continuing rain,” said Rajeevan.