Landslides kill 17, bury 60 under rubble in south India
In Kerala’s Idukki district, three days of heavy showers triggered landslides in the early hours of the morning that razed a tea plantation workers’ settlement. Fifteen were declared dead and 60 were missing – most of whom were sleeping.Updated: Aug 08, 2020 04:52 IST
Landslides killed 17 people and trapped 60 others under a mound of slush and debris across Kerala and Karnataka on Friday as torrential rainfall pounded India’s western coast.
In Kerala’s Idukki district, three days of heavy showers triggered landslides in the early hours of the morning that razed a tea plantation workers’ settlement. Fifteen were declared dead and 60 were missing – most of whom were sleeping. Idukki district collector H Dineshan said the downpour and mist hampered rescue even as the showers snapped communication lines.
“I heard a deafening sound and came out of the two-room house. I saw a big portion of the mountain coming out with a heavy flow of water and slush. I ran outside but got into the swirl of waters,” said Deepan, who was admitted at a hospital in Munnar.
In neighbouring Karnataka, two people died in the Malnad region and another five reported missing. Rescuers were also searching for five people missing at Talacauvery, the origin of Cauvery river, where massive landslides and floods inundated villages on Wednesday night.
“Pained by the loss of lives due to a landslide in Rajamalai, Idukki. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. Heavy rains would continue in the region till Sunday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Friday.
This is the heaviest rainfall this monsoon in the two states, where massive floods have killed 803 people and displaced 12.8 million, according to home ministry data.
“Our analysis of rainfall data over the last 70 years, show a three-fold rise in extreme rains along the west coast and central India. This is because the monsoon winds over the Arabian Sea are now exhibiting large fluctuations, thanks to a warmer environment,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.
According to IMD, average rainfall in the coastal regions of Karnataka and Kerala in the past 24 hours was 20 cm with Idukki receiving 26 cm and Malnad receiving 23 cm. At the almost half-way mark of the monsoon this year, Karnataka received excess rainfall by 53% and Kerala by 102%, whereas states in northern and central India have rainfall deficiency of 56% to 95%.
The eastern states have received heavy rainfall in the latter part of July and first week of August, causing massive floods. At least 239 deaths have been reported from West Bengal, the highest for any state.
Rainfall has subsided in the worst-affected northern districts of Bihar, where close to 6.9 million people have been affected, according to the state disaster management department. Sixteen districts remain flood-hit. The situation may worsen in many districts if it rains heavily in the catchment areas of rivers such as Gandak, Bagmati and Kamla Balan, which are still flowing above the danger mark.
In Assam, where close to 200 animals in Kaziranga National Park and 136 people have died, the flood situation has improved in the past few days.