A tiger has been spotted near the landslide site at the village of Pettimudi in Kerala’s Idukki district, triggering safety concerns among rescue and relief workers and other locals.
Rescue personnel are yet to find the bodies of five more people who became victims of a landslide in Pettimudi on August 6.
The Indian Express quoted Sub-collector of Devikulam taluk, S Premkrishnan as saying, “We spotted the tiger yesterday and day before, hardly 4-5 kilometres from the rescue site. Subsequently, the forest department has posted some guards to keep an eye on the tiger. According to them, once a tiger comes out of its territory, it is likely to linger in the area for a few days before going back. So we have to be careful.”
He added that the district collector called for a meeting on Sunday (August 23) in which everyone will be deciding whether to continue with rescue operations and if yes, how to continue with it.
This development with the presence of the tiger in the area, which is likely to stay in the territory at least for the next days, is expected to complicate relief operations for the district administration and the rescue agencies.
These rescue and relief personnel have been carrying out intensified searches in two segments of a nearby river where the other bodies of landslide victims were reportedly washed away by the debris. Acccording to The Indian Express, both locations are said to be tricky terrain for rescue operations.
Meanwhile, there are also suspicions that the rest of the bodies may have been washed down into a dam’s reservoir area down the river, from where retrieval would be impossible.
The district administration had earlier said rescue efforts would continue until the last body was found. However, they would now have to take into consideration the safety of the rescue workers since a tiger has now been spotted there.
The landslide in Idukki’s Pettimudi on the night of August 6 resulted in four rows of ‘layams’ or residential quarters of tea plantation workers and their families being buried in the debris.
While 12 people were rescued in the initial hours of the landslide, 65 died due to the landslide. Five more persons are missing.