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KOCHI: The death toll in the landslide at Pettimudi, Rajamala in Kerala’s Idukki district mounted to 18 with the recovery of three more bodies on Friday evening.
The bodies have not been identified as the rescue operations had to be stopped for the night due to heavy rainfall in the region.

The search operations will continue tomorrow, officials said.

However, officials indicated that the chance of recovering any more lives appears bleak. Meanwhile, The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has sounded a red alert for Idukki along with Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad on Saturday. The IMD has warned of widespread rainfall for the next two days.

Earlier in the day, 12 lives were saved. Among the missing are 23 people from a single-family.

Officials said that a total of 83 people were staying there. The rescued persons were shifted to Munnar Tata Tea general hospital and Kolenchery medical college.

According to the district administration, 30 houses in four tea estate layams (cluster of workers’ quarters) went under after a landslide hit Pettimudy in Rajamala near Munnar in Idukki. The first rescue team reached the landslide devastated Pettimudy division in Rajamala near Munnar around Friday noon.
According to Eravikulam national park range officer Job J Neriamparampil, “The news of the tragedy had reached when some people walked nearest available contact point at Eravikulam National Park check post and informed about the landslide. After receiving information about the incident around 7.30am, we immediately rushed the spot in two jeeps. When we reached the spot, the area was found in a ground which was filled with mud and rocks. We rescued four people from a family and shared the information with other departments,” Neriamparampil told TOI.
Among the dead are six forest department staff who stayed in the layams (shelters). The body of Eravikulam National Park driver Mayilswami was recovered.
The Periyavara bridge collapse and failure of the communication network due to lack of power supply disrupted the rescue operations. The bridge has been reconnected on priority and 15 ambulances were put into service for the rescue operations.
The Periyavara bridge which connects the Munnar-Marayoor route was washed away on Tuesday night and the Munnar- Marayoor areas were cut off.
The BSNL made arrangements to restore the functioning of their towers in the Pettimudi- Rajamala factory area on Friday itself on a war-footing.
It said that there was an interruption in the communication network as the electrical supply was totally cut-off due to heavy rain and wind.
After the restoration of the service with these two BSNL towers in the area on satellite media, over 2,000 calls were handled per hour. BSNL principal general manager K Francis Jacob said that Devikulam sub-collector and Kannan Devan tea factory extended all support to restore communication services on a war-footing.
BSNL is the only operator in this part of the high range area. The team used the forest pathway to reach the tower location as the bridge en route from Munnar to Pettimudi was completely damaged.
Widespread rainfall activity along with isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely over next week, IMD said in the extended rainfall forecast. Strong wind with speed reaching 50-60kmph is likely to prevail along & off Kerala coast, Karnataka coast and over Lakshadweep Area. Fishermen are advised not to venture into these areas.
More than 20cm of extremely heavy rainfall was recorded in four places, including Peermade, which got the highest rainfall in the state on Friday at 26cm.
Idukki, Munnar got 23cm of rainfall each while Mananthavady recorded 21cm. Other places which recorded heavy rainfall was Vythiri with19cm, Myladumpara- 18cm, Kuppady- 17cm, Palakkad- 14cm, Perumbavoor- 13cm, CIAL. Kochi, Alathur, Ottappalam and Ambalavayal with 12cm each. Vadakkancherry and Mannarkkad- 11cm each, Aryankavu, Kozha and Kollengode got 10 cm of rainfall each.



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