Forty-year-old Basheer sat in the verandah of his elderly father's residence. waiting for him to pack his belongings, as rains lashed the house. The resident of Poochal in Malappuram district was witness to a horrific accident on Wednesday morning, and the fear that the incident caused was apparent in his effort to move his family as far away as possible from the site of devastation.
It was around 1.30 am when Basheer heard a commotion in the area and left the house to check what happened. Residents of Poochal were rushing uphill, towards a house in the area where a couple - Asees and Muneera lived with their three children. It was immediately evident why. A huge mound of earth had fallen on the house, bending its pillar and shaking its very foundation. Stones and mud had further rolled into the house and the land slip killed three members of the family. Asees's house was right next to Basheer's father's residence.
"When I went there the two elder children were out. But Asees, his wife and youngest child were missing. By the time the rescue workers came it was 6 am and they recovered all the dead bodies only at 9 am," says Basheer. "After seeing this site, I immediately went to the hospital. I am a heart patient and this was just too much for me to take. My family can't stay here after this. So I am moving them to my house which is further away," he adds.
Kabir and this family
Basheer is not the only one to take drastic steps to protect his family. For the past 48 hours, the residents have not had electricity. The hilly terrain in Poochal posed dangers to the residents at the foothills and was also completely waterlogged due to the lack of an effective drainage system. Following the latest landslip, four families have already moved to relative's houses and to relief camps.
District Collector Amit Meena had fervently appealed to the people living along the foothills to shift to safer places.
“You can choose either our relief camps or your relatives’ places. But the situation is very serious. All of us should maintain extreme vigil,” he said through a voice message on social media.
District authorities have opened 19 camps in Nilambur, Kondotty, Eranad and Ponnani taluks of Malappuram district.
40-year-old Kabir who lives near Aziz's house points out that the ground in this area had become extremely soft, posing further trouble.
"When we tried to throw a stone into Aziz's house to see if we can enter, the stone fell into the ground. The floor was collapsing," he says.
Then why has he not left?
"Where will we go? I work here and don't know where these camps are," he says, as his children watch on. "We will manage."