According to many elderly residents in Kottayam’s Koottickal village, it was for the first time in their decades-old life that they were seeing and experiencing such severe rainfall.

Rescue operations going on in Kootickal village in Kottayam of Kerala where landslide occurred due to heavy rains Rescue Operations in Kootickal
news Kerala Rains 2021 Sunday, October 17, 2021 - 17:18
Written by  PTI

An elderly woman, clad in a tattered saree, ran from one person to another, screaming through the rain-swept roads in this high range hamlet in Kerala, located at the foothills of Western Ghats mountain ranges, on Sunday morning, October 17. "I have lost everything… everything in my life. Where should I go? Who will give me a shelter?" the woman asked as she cried out loud, and running helter-skelter.

The unexpected torrential rain, which pounded the Koottickal village of Kottayam district on Saturday, washed away every penny of her lifetime earnings and made her homeless in a matter of few minutes. "I had begged our Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan sir to give me two cents of land to construct a 'koora' (hut). I have nowhere to go now. My daughters' houses have also submerged. Now I am going to the church to see whether I will get a place there," she told the journalists gathered at the place.

It was the story of many hapless families in Koottickal, located in the Kottayam district, which suffered severe destruction and human casualty due to a series of landslips triggered by heavy rains on Saturday. According to many elderly residents in the village, it was for the first time in their decades-old life that they were seeing and experiencing such severe rainfall. 

Six members of a family — grandmother, father, mother and three girls — were washed away in the landslide in Kavali in Koottickal on Saturday. Meanwhile, the rescue operations have been continuing in Koottickal.

Read: Three generations in a family of six washed away in Kerala rains

When the extreme rains showed a slight dip on Sunday morning, a large number of people in this village could be seen displaced, taking refuge in rehabilitation campus. 

A shop owner pointed to his new car, which was destroyed and partially hanging with its back wheels stuck on a broken wall in his house compound. "It was my new car parked in front of the house. I was not at home when the flood water suddenly gushed inside the house compound Saturday afternoon. My wife and children somehow managed to run to our neighbour's house," the middle-aged man said.

He turned a bit emotional as he showed his 'mundu' (dhoti), saying he borrowed it from his neighbour. “Only lives were saved, and everything else was lost,” he said, adding that not even in the 2018 floods had he faced such a terrible situation.

The situation was not different in Kokkayar, a hilly hamlet in the Idukki district as well, which also witnessed a series of landslips and human casualties on Saturday, due to the incessant rains.

A shocked Rajamma, a resident of Kokkayar, was yet to believe that a four-member family including children, who were engaged in some construction activities near her home on the foothills of the hill, were swept away by floodwaters in front of her eyes. The elderly woman said she advised the family to move away from the place when water was seen coming down from the hilltops on a small scale. "But, they continued their work. Suddenly a portion of the hill, where they were standing, caved in. Huge boulders started rolling down, accompanied by a massive flood of water... I do not remember anything else," the teary-eyed woman said.

George, a middle-aged man engaged in rescue operations, said everything was fine and calm in the village till 11 pm on Saturday. "But, the situation worsened after that. Around 10 big bridges and the same number of wooden bridges were washed away, and soon, the village became isolated," he said.

The Army, NDRF, police and the Fire Force, along with the residents in the area, began rescue operations on Sunday morning, October 17, at Koottickal and Kokkayar panchayats, where over a dozen people are listed to be missing due to numerous landslides accompanied by heavy downpour since Saturday.

Officials said rescue operators on Sunday morning recovered four more bodies from Koottickal panchayat taking the toll to eight. 

Watch the video on landslide in Kootickal in Kottayam