Toll in Idukki landslide rises to 52 as three more bodies recovered

Personnel of NDRF, fire, forest, and police departments have expanded their search operations to trace 19 more people who were still missing after the August 7 tragedy near Rajamala

Search operations are being carried out at the site of the disaster in Idukki's Pettimudi to trace those feared trapped in the debris. File Photo: PTI

The death toll in the landslip in Pettimudi in the high-range Idukki district rose to 52 with three more bodies being recovered from the debris as rescue operations continued on Tuesday (August 11) to trace those missing. The bodies of two men and a woman were recovered, officials said.

Devikulam Sub Collector Prem Krishnan said nine of the 52 deceased persons are children. Personnel of NDRF, fire, forest, and police departments have expanded their search operations to the downstream of a river in their efforts to trace 18 more people who were still missing in the August 7 tragedy near Rajamala, they said.

Search operations are also being carried out at the site of the disaster to trace those feared trapped in the debris, the officials said. There was only moderate rain in Pettimudi on Tuesday. The place has been sanitised as a few rescue workers and media persons tested positive for COVID-19. The search will continue tomorrow.

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Meanwhile, the water level at Mullaperiyar reservoir in Idukki district reached 136.85 feet on Tuesday. The Idukki Collector held discussions with the Collector of Theni in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, with regard to the release of water through the tunnel to Vaigai dam when the water level touched the 136-feet mark.

The Kerala government had on Saturday asked the Tamil Nadu government to release water from Mullaperiyar to Vaigai Dam in a phased manner when the water level reached 136 feet in view of heavy rains in Idukki. With a let-up in the rains, the water receded in many low-lying areas of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.

There was no red alert warning in any of the states 14 districts as the intensity of rains had decreased and the affected areas had started limping back to normalcy.

A 151-year-old chapel of a CSI Church collapsed in the wee hours on Tuesday due to the forceful inflow of the water following the breach of bunds in Pallathuruthy in Alappuzha district. Built in 1869, the chapel was used by around 30 families for conducting their religious rituals, a report from Alappuzha said.

Meanwhile, the European Union on Tuesday said it is providing 1.65 million euro in humanitarian aid in response to severe flooding that has affected South Asia, most notably Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The funding comes on top of the 1.8 million euro announced earlier this year to support families affected by a series of disasters, including Cyclone Amphan that ravaged India and Bangladesh in May.

An additional 500,000 euro will be used in India to provide food and livelihood assistance, emergency relief supplies, and water and sanitation services, it said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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