It was an unbearable sight, as the rescue team members described it, as they rummaged through mounds of slush and debris on Sunday, 17 October, with the hopes of finding the people who got buried in the landslide at Kokkayar village in Kerala’s Idukki district.
As the teams dug through the debris amid rains, they found the bodies of three children. The three were hugging each other in their death. The three children have been identified as Amna (7), Afsan (8) and Ahiyan (4).
As the rescue team continued their efforts to find the remaining bodies, they found three more bodies in a similar state – a mother and her son hugging each other, while a baby was found in its cradle. The mother and son were identified as Fauziya (28) and Ameen (10).
A few meters away, as the rescue mission was underway, Kanjirapally native Siyad was silently sitting near the landslide site, with both numbness and anxiety evident on his face. Fauziya was Siyad’s wife, while Amna and Ameen were his children. Afsan and Ahiyan were the children of Fausiya’s bother, Faisal.
According to reports, Fauziya and her children had come to her paternal home in Idukki to attend a relative’s wedding. Moments before the landslide claimed their lives and the house, Fauziya had shot a video of the stream of muddy water flowing through the compound of their house amid heavy rainfall, and sent it to a relative on WhatsApp, reported Manorama.
A total of 11 members were initially reported missing, according to reports. By Sunday evening, six bodies, including 55-year-old Shaji’s body, were found.
The dead bodies have been shifted to Medical College Hospital in Kottayam.
The instance where the bodies of children and mother-child were found hugging each other is painfully reminiscent of the 2019 and 2018 landslides in Kerala. In the 2018 Kerala floods, the lifeless bodies of two children were found hugging the body of their mother, who were buried under the rubble brought on by the landslides at Chatriyanpara in Malappuram.
Similarly, in 2019, the body of a mother was found holding the hand of her infant under the debris of the landslide in Malappuram.
In 2020, Anagha (4) and her cousin Aleena (8) were buried together after their bodies were dug out following a massive landslide at Kavalappara village in 2019.
Between 13 October and 17 October, the death toll due to rain-related incidents in the state rose 30. A 1.5-year-old child died after falling into a canal at Eramala near Vadakara in Kozhikode district. The canal was flooded due to the heavy rains and it was a shopkeeper in the area who saw the kid falling into the canal.
The child fell into the canal when he followed his elder brother who went to a shop. Mohammed Rayhan’s parents and his brother weren't aware that the child followed his brother. The accident happened around 11 am on 17 October. Though he was rushed to the government hospital in Vadakara, his life couldn’t be saved.
The Indian Meteorological Department has predicted rains and strong winds in the state till 21 October. As per the latest information from the Kerala Disaster Management Authority, thunderstorms with a speed of 40 kilometres per hour with rainfall has been predicted in Alappuzha, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Idukki, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts.
A total of 2,159 people have been moved to rehabilitation camps in the state as of Sunday morning. The state government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the families of people who were killed in rain-related calamities.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute)