Over three weeks after a landslide struck Thora, a village in Virajpet taluk of Kodagu district, authorities have called off the search operation for the four people still missing after the calamity.
Ten residents of the village went missing following the landslide on Aug. 9. A team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel began searching for survivors and bodies soon after, but the operation was halted, with four people still missing. "We have decided to call off the search operation after speaking with the family members. The rains are making the search difficult now. We will check the feasibility of re-starting the search after the rains subside," Kodagu Deputy Commissioner Annies Joy said.
Rescue and search officials told TNM that rainfall had turned the area affected by the landslide slushy. The search was also hampered by the uneven terrain in the village and the mist in the evening.
The landslide struck the hill-side village near Virajpet between 10.30 am and 11.30 am on August 9, sparking panic among the residents. The landslide wiped out houses, trees and acres of coffee plantations within minutes after a spell of heavy rainfall.
Immediately after the disaster occurred, authorities in the district rescued the survivors of the landslide by boat and a search operation began to look for the missing people. Two teams of the NDRF were pressed into service while as many as six excavators were deployed in the search for survivors.
Six bodies were found including that of Anusuya (40), wife of Prabhu Kumar, a 45-year-old resident of the village. Prabhuâ€™s family, including his wife Anusuya, mother Devaki (65) and two daughters Amrita (15) and Aditya (10), were inside the house at the time and went missing after the landslide struck. "Prabhu has been at the site of the landslide every day since the disaster occurred. On the third day, his wife's body was found but his mother and two daughters are still missing," Vijay Kumar, a resident of Thora told TNM.
Another resident of the village Veena (35) also went missing and is yet to be found. A team of scientists from the Geological Survey of India (GSI) visited the areas affected by landslides this year in Kodagu. The team will submit a report of its findings shortly.
The disaster stirred memories of the landslides that struck the hilly region in August 2018, taking the lives of 18 people and displacing over 7,000 others. While the landslides affected areas in Somwarpet and Madikeri taluk last year, landslides occurred in areas of Virajpet taluk in the southern part of the district this year. Virajpet taluk received 905 mm of rainfall in the week before the landslide in Thora.