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Kerala woman battles to piece together life torn by deadly landslide last year

Kolkata based-nurse Vidya cherishes the memories of her loving, caring famiy who died in a massive landslide on August 17 last year in Idukki district.

Published: 23rd August 2019 02:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd August 2019 05:44 AM   |  A+A-

Soumya Shiju, stands in front of her house which was damaged after a massive landslide eroded the earth beneath the building at Adimali near Munnar.  Five of her family living at the foothill were killed as the debris fell atop their house

Soumya Shiju, stands in front of her house which was damaged after a massive landslide eroded the earth beneath the building at Adimali near Munnar. Five of her family living at the foothill were killed as the debris fell atop their house | Albin Mathew

Express News Service

CHERUTHONI : Standing on the dilapidated mud road, Vidya stares at the deep valley, where her two-storey house stood a year ago. She cherishes the memories of her loving, caring, close-knit family, where she grew up pampered by her father, mother and elder brother in their house at Upputhodu in Mariyapuram panchayat, Idukki. 

Her father Mathew was a retired bank employee and mother Rajamma, an anganwadi teacher. Her brother Vishal was pursuing higher studies when Vidya joined a hospital in Kolkata as a nurse after completing her nursing course. Life turned bitter on August 17 last year when a massive landslide swept away her family along with their dream home. Rescue workers searched the debris using earthmovers for two days, but no trace of the house was left. 

“It was 9.15 pm when we heard a huge explosion and ran out of the house. The power lines got snapped and it was pitch dark. We heard screams from the house of Mundakkal Joy, a neighbour. The scene was scary. There were only mud, boulders and trees at the place where the house stood,” Rajamma’s brother Thankachan said in a broken voice recollecting the ordeal. Vidya escaped the tragedy as she was in Kolkata.

“Rajamma had just returned from church, where they had opened a relief camp. Mathew, Vishal and his friend Tintu of Karakkamthotti were in the house when a portion of the hill came crashing down. It changed the entire landscape,” he said.

The government sanctioned Rs 10 lakh as compensation for Vidya. However, the offer of a government job is yet to be met. The family members have fixed her marriage for September, but Vidya is unable to get the 15 sovereigns of gold mortgaged by her mother in a bank, despite paying the dues. “The authorities are demanding to close the Rs 3 lakh crop loan taken by Mathew to get the gold released. If the government provides a job, it can help her settle down. Now, she is working as a temporary worker at Mariyapuram PHC,” said Thankachan.

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