KAVALAPPARA (Malappuram) Kavalappara, a small village in the hills, escaped the impact of the deluge last year when other parts of Malappuram were badly affected. However, this time, it has become the sorrow of the entire state with about 63 persons feared dead in the massive landslide which flattened the hamlet on Thursday night.
Despite several hurdles, search operations for the missing are still underway. People came to know about the tragedy very late as roads and other communication facilities were hit by heavy rain. Local residents blamed the authorities for the delay in search and rescue operations.
“On Friday, only one earthmover was availed for operations. It was after locals protested that the authorities brought two more earthmovers on Saturday. If they had brought heavy-duty earthmovers, more bodies could be recovered,” said Shihabudheen, a resident of Kavalappara. About 30 families, comprising farmers and daily wage labourers, resided in the area. There were also several families belonging to the Paniya tribe.
“Last year, the authorities issued a warning and we were all moved to safe destinations. However, nothing happened. Considering this, many of the residents hesitated to move out this time. This aggravated the depth of tragedy,” said Rajesh a local resident. The victims have been shifted to relief camps. Weather was favourable for search operation on Sunday. Senior Revenue officers are camping in the area to coordinate the activities.
Six members of family including four children go missing in Nilambur landslide
It has been a long wait for 40-year-old Padmini and her 20-year-old daughter-in-law Manisha of Kavalappara for their loved ones. Six members of their family, including four children, have gone missing in the landslide in the area since Thursday.
Padmini said her sister Santha Kumari, Santha Kumari’s son Sujith, a Plus-II student, her distant relative Susheela, Susheela’s father Aanakkaran, 65, and Susheela’s three children Karthik, a Class X student, Kamal, Class VIII student and Kishor, a Class IV student, are still under the debris of the landslide.
Padmini and Manisha have been staying at the relief camp at Malankara Catholic Church in Bhoothanam since last Friday. Two men in the family, Santha Kumari’s husband Sunil and Manisha’s husband Rajesh, have been actively participating in the rescue operations in the landslide-hit area to recover the bodies of their family members. The search is yet to yield any result.
“We lost our loved ones. Now we want to see their faces for the last time. My son has been working hard with the rescue team to recover the bodies, but he has not been able to find out the bodies yet. We are helpless,” said Padmini.
She said they were unable to shift to the relief camps before the disaster as the flood water blocked all their ways to go out of the colony. According to Padmini, the disaster happened around 8 pm on Thursday.
“We heard a loud noise, between 7 pm and 8 pm on Thursday. We thought that to be the sound of a helicopter coming to rescue us. But we saw water coming down from the hill, followed by mud and trees. We, who are still alive in the family, ran towards a road, which is on a higher plane. The other family members who ran sideways and to other directions got trapped under mud,” she said.
They had to stay in a safe hill area in Bhoothanam on Thursday night and later shifted to the nearby camp on Friday. Manisha said the government authorities in the area did not help them evacuate the area before the disaster. “Even after the disaster, the local people started rescue operations here. The authorities did not even alert us on the dangerous situation,” said Manisha.