It took close to 15 minutes of climbing up sloping mud paths and slippery stone stairs to reach Oorkadavu, an area in Kozhikode district that witnessed tragedy early on Thursday morning. 30-year-old Jaleel, a resident of this area, led the way, describing the devastation that unfolded in this landscape, leading to the death of two children.
"It had been raining incessantly from Wednesday night and water was gushing down this slope. Eleven people were sleeping in a house on the slope when the landslip occurred," he explains. "The mud, stones and water that rushed down, completely covered one empty house and damaged another, where these people were staying," he adds.
All that is left of the house that Jaleel talks about now is broken tiles from its roof. The structure is surrounded by wet mud and water streams around it. And while nine people in it managed to escape, two children aged two and five died in this mishap. The deceased have been identified as Nishana (2) daughter of K Shukkur and Thanha Fathima (5) daughter of Mohammed Shammas.
These were the first two deaths to take place in Kozhikode on Thursday. Following this, four more people were killed in rain related incidents, and two of them were children. According to the district administration 10 landslips occurred in the area in a matter of 12 hours. Kozhikode has seen 375 mm of rainfall in just the last week.
"We've evacuated most people from the hilly regions to relief camps. We've explained the dangers of staying there to them and while most people are agreeable to this, some are adamant and want to stay back in their houses," says Kozhikode Collector UV Jose. The district administration had sent jeeps to these areas with speaker systems advising people to move to camps. "We are doing all that we can," he adds.
This message, which came soon after the death of the two children, was leaving an impact on the residents. All 38 families near the site of the accident had left to relief camps or their relatives' houses
Manjusha, a mother of two and resident of Oorkadavu had sent her children to the nearest relief camp soon after she heard news of the deaths in the neighbouring house.
"Those two girls would come to my house to play almost everyday. I've fed them gruel with my own hands. Their grandfather would carry them on his shoulders and bring them. I just couldn't handle the news," she says. "They had moved to that house just last night because the house they were staying in was damaged by the rain. Clearly, none of our houses are safe. Staying here any longer is foolish," she adds.
For the people of Oorkadavu, the danger came from two directions. One, were the landslips that threatened to engulf their homes and the second was from a swelling Chaliyar river that was eating away at the roads.
"I wasn't planning to leave initially," says Jaleel. "But if this rain continues, we will be in danger for sure."
Across Kerala 45 people died on just Thursday due to rain related incidents.