The tragic stories of helpless families caught in the midst of Nature's fury continue to pour in from Kerala. On Sunday, as rescuers cleared the debris of a landslide in Malappuram, which had been captured on CCTV earlier in the week, they recovered bodies of a mother and child, with the parent still holding on protectively to her young son.
The mother, Geetha, was 21 while her son, Dhruvan, was just 1.5 years old. Till the last minute, it appears that Geetha had tried to keep her child away from harm, but it was not to be.
The lone survivor from the family is Sharath, Geetha's husband. He's the man in the CCTV visuals, who runs even as a landslide threatened to bury him alive. Just seconds before, his mother Sarojini had warned him. The mudslide took her over and her body was recovered on Monday.
Police officials told TNM that the mission to retrieve the bodies of the mother and the son was a tough one. "The slabs were standing precariously and a wrong move would have made everything crash on them again. She was holding him. We had to remove her hold on the child and then remove the two bodies seperately," a police officer told TNM.
The landslide happened two days after heavy rains were wreaking havoc in the state.
The man – later identified as Sarath – was walking on a path talking to his mother, when a sudden mudslide occurred trapping his wife and child in the house below, said the Malappuram SI.
The CCTV recording had showed a disturbing video of Sarath, walking with an umbrella, on a road in Kottakkunnu, Malappuram. His mother who was walking towards him stops to talk. Someone watching the recording can be heard in the video commenting that the mother was telling the son to run. Sarath and Sarojini can be seen looking behind them as a mudslide crashes towards them out of nowhere, dragging down trees along the way. The son makes a dash for it, while Sarojini is pulled under the mud. Sarath, who is swept off by the harsh wind, hits a building and escapes.
The search operations were disrupted twice due to unfavourable weather conditions. Since there was no rain in Malappuram on Sunday, the rescue team was able to resume the search and recover the bodies of Geethu and Dhruvan. The bodies have been taken to Manjeri Government Medical College.
Malappuram has been one of the worst affected districts in the rain. At least 63 people, including children, are feared to be trapped underground after a major landslide occurred in Kavalappara. Nine bodies have been found so far and rescue operations are still on. The total number of people reported to have died in rain-related incidents in the state is 63.