Kerala landslide
Ground Penetrating Radars or GPRS used to detect bodies hidden under the debris at Kavalappara failed to help due to the high presence of water in the region.

More than 10 days after a landslide at Kavalappara in Kerala’s Malappuram district wiped out an entire village, six more bodies have been retrieved from the debris. The death toll from the disaster at Kavalappara now stands at 46.

According to reports quoting district authorities, 13 persons still remain missing from the landslide which occurred on August 8. The district administration had applied the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) system to detect sub-surface objects and thereby help the ground force at the site who are working on retrieving more bodies from the area.

Facilitated by the Hyderabad based National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), the GPR system which detects sub-surface objects by using high frequency radio waves was however, found not to be very effective at the landslide site in Kavalappara due to heavy rains and water content in the soil.

“We will continue to search using routine methods and the team of scientists from NGRI will proceed to the Puthumala landslide spot in Wayanad on Monday,” Malappuram district collector Jafar Malik told Times of India.

A ground force comprising of the Kerala Fire and Rescue Services personnel, Kerala Police and the National Disaster Response Force and volunteers have been searching day and night for missing persons and excavating bodies from the debris following the landslide on August 8. The bodies have been retrieved with the support of heavy equipment such as earth movers, concrete cutters and saws.

According to reports, the fire and rescue services undertaking the operations first made a sketch of the site with the help of the local people and relatives of those who are still missing. Excavation was done in those areas where houses were said to be located.

“We dug up for the bodies pinpointing the locations of the houses, and calculating the possibilities of movement in the force of the landslip,” Arun Bhaskar and Moosa Vadakkethil, Palakkad and Malappuram District Fire Officers respectively told The Hindu.