IDUKKI: Following intensified search operations, as many as 17 bodies of Pettimudy landslide victims were recovered on Sunday, taking the death toll to 43.
“We recovered 17 bodies, including the body of a six-month-old baby boy. Of the 17, 10 bodies were found with the help of sniffer dogs. By evening, we had to stop all operations due to heavy rainfall. As of now, 27 people are still missing,” Devikulam sub-collector S Premkrishnan said.
The landslide on Friday had taken away 30 houses in four tea estate layams (workers’ quarters). At least 82 people were reported missing, of whom only 12 could be rescued. Bulldozers and other equipment were used on Sunday to clear the huge boulders, mud and slush in the area where houses of the plantation workers stood. Union minister of state V Muraleedharan, who visited the site on Sunday, said the central government had already announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased. He highlighted a disparity in Kerala government’s assistance to victims of Karipur air-crash and Pettimudy landslide, hinting at higher compensation to the former.
“I do not understand why there is a selective assistance on the part of the Kerala government… I hope the CM will explain the matter,” he said. The state government had announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to air-crash victims as opposed to Rs 5 lakh each to landslide victims. CM Pinarayi Vijayan had refuted the “disparity” charges on Saturday, saying the compensation announced was only part of the state efforts to assist the landslide victims.