With bated breath and anxiety writ large on their faces, the people gathered at Agali panchayat in Attappadi, Palakkad, watched as a family of five was drawn on a makeshift zip-line across the Bhavani River, to safety.
This operation was especially a risky one. The rescue team had two main tasks at hand: one, convincing the family to evacuate their house; two, and most important, ferry across an eight-month pregnant woman and her 1.5-year-old child.
Due to heavy rainfall, Palakkad district witnessed landslides in a few areas, including Attappadi. As a result, roads and bridges were destroyed, cutting off access to the main route. In one of the villages, a few houses stood on the banks of the Bhavani River, which was flowing in full spate and had strong currents. While the fire and rescue team managed to evacuate and take many residents to safety, this family of five, including a 1.5-year-old child, was reportedly reluctant to leave their house.
According to Asianet, the father of the 1.5-year-old, identified as Murugesh, was initially not ready to take the risk of zip-lining across the river with the child. An expert in swimming even managed to reach his house to volunteer to take the child across, if he wanted. Finally, Murugesh relented and decided to cooperate. Secured in harness belts, he was suspended from the rope line, with the child tightly fastened to his chest with a cloth. With calculated and slow moves, they pulled the father and child to the other side, where a medical team was on standby.
The childâ€™s grandparents, who were rescued first, attended to the visibly baffled child. According to Manorama News, Murugesh was on rest following surgery.
Meanwhile, the rescue team got on to the next Herculean task, one that required even more precision. The childâ€™s heavily pregnant mother, Lavanya, was standing on the verandah of her house on the banks of the Bhavani River. The team soon strapped her on with a harness belt. When she was ready and securely mounted on the rope line, she was lifted and the journey started. She clung on to the rope even as her hand quivered. The team on the other side was cautiously pulling her through the zip-line.
Finally, after almost eight minutes, she was pulled over to the safe side of the land and relieved from the straps.
As per the latest report of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), red warning with heavy to very heavy rainfall has been issued for the rest of Saturday in Palakkad. However, the intensity of the rainfall is likely to reduce in the next few days, with heavy rainfall forecast for Sunday and light to moderate rainfall till August 14.