IDUKKI: Over 200 selected members of the forces, local people, revenue, forest and a medical team, searched every nook and corner of the tea worker settlement in Rajamala on the third day on Sunday for those who had gone missing in the landslip at Pettimudi in Idukki district.
The death toll in the landslide has increased to 43 and the rescue operation to retrieve the remaining bodies is underway.
Earlier in the day, the body of 38-year-old Arun Maheswar, son of Ayyanar was recovered. It has been learnt that the rescue team had recovered another body from the debris whose identity has not yet been established.
At least a dozen more are feared to be missing in the landslide in Pettimudi, and it is estimated that nearly 40 people might be missing in the massive landslip which devoured the settlement on Thursday.
Even as 12 persons had a miraculous escape, most of the victims were buried under tonnes of earth and rubble as flood waters accompanied by landslides battered 4 estate lanes located in Pettimudi.
The likelihood of finding bodies in good condition is fading fast considering that the bodies have been under mud and rubble for 4 days since the occurring of the incident on Thursday night, and also because they have been dragged down long distances. However, the district administration has not decided to call off the search.
“Searching in the vast area is a huge task. We are conducting searches in the area where chances of finding bodies are higher as per the opinion of the local people. The continuous rain has been hampering our work. However, we are trying our level best to find the missing bodies,” said an officer of the rescue team.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala who visited the spot alleged Rs 5 lakh financial assistance assured by the government to the landslide victims in Pettimudi was discriminatory.
“Compensation should be given to those killed in the flight crash but the same consideration should be given to the people of in Pettimudi,” he said.
Meanwhile, forest minister K Raju assured that he would hold a discussion with the chief minister on the compensation package for the victims of Pettimudi landslide.
“Since the landslide victims include 6 persons, who were employed at the forest department in Rajamala, the department will take efforts to provide necessary financial assistance and other support to their family members and this will be done after convening a meeting with the forest officials concerned,” he said.
Rescue team member declaring COVID-19 spark concern
Meanwhile, one of the team members of the fire force team from Alappuzha who conducted rescue operations in Pettimudi declaring covid positive has sparked concern among the authorities.
The health department has directed the officer and those who have closely contacted with the man to go in quarantine.