A two-year-old girl is feared to have been washed away in the flash floods near Pollachi in Coimbatore district late on Thursday night. Heavy rains have been lashing Coimbatore and Nilgiris districts in Tamil Nadu for the past 50 hours.
On Thursday night, a block in the Contour canal near Pollachi led to the unexpected flooding of nearby settlements. More than 30 temporary houses of the adivasi people living in Nagaroothu were washed away in the flash floods while people rushed to save themselves from being swept away in the water. Sundari, the 2-year-old daughter of Azhagamma was washed away in the flash floods. The search operation by the Forest Department officials was hindered at night due to heavy rains and lack of electricity. However, the search operations for the child resumed on Friday with 20 personnel from Forest Department pressed into action. All others have been rescued and accommodated in the TNEB colony in Sarkarpathy. Six persons who were injured have been admitted to government hospitals in Pollachi and Coimbatore.
The rains caused landslides in many places on the Pollachi-Valparai road due to which the stretch has been blocked by the district authorities. Sarkarpathy, a locality in Valparai area, received heavy rains casing boulders to roll down from the hilly spots in the area. These boulders reportedly blocked the way of water flowing in the Contour canal. This blockade reportedly caused the water flow to spill over to the tribal settlement in Nagaroothu causing flash floods in the area.
Speaking to TNM about the incident, a Forest Ranger at the spot says that search operations are still underway. “We have not yet been able to trace the baby. We have been looking for her since early today (Friday),” he adds.
“Around 9 pm on Thursday night, the rain was heavy and the water was flowing rough. All houses were destroyed in the water flow,” says Murugan from Nagaroothu, who had to flee the settlement on Thursday night.
Vellachi, a tribal woman fights back tears as she narrated how the people in the settlement were caught unaware of the flash floods. “Since rains happened at night, none of us knew when the water came in. It swept away our homes and we now are stuck with no amenities. We don’t know what happened to one family. I heard they are in a hospital and that a small girl is missing,” she says. Vellachi struggles to contain her emotions. “We don’t even have drinking water here now. There are infants here who are struggling for some water, she says, her voice quivering with emotion.
(With inputs from Sudhakar Balasundaram)