It has been seven days since a massive landslide occurred in Kodagu’s Thora village, and search operations are still on for six people are still feared to be under the rubble. The landslide occurred on August 9 between 10:30 am and 11 am and wiped out houses, trees and acres of coffee plants. 10 residents of the village were reported missing, of which four have been found dead.
“The search operations have been hampered by the fact that the landslides have affected a large area. The terrain is also such that rigorous search operations might cause further landslips in the area. They are having to dig deep to search for missing people,” said Kodagu Deputy Commissioner Annies Joy.
The district administration has brought in six excavators to expand the area being searched and has also requested the state government to send experts who can guide rescue groups in searching for survivors and bodies.
Search operations have been affected by continuous rainfall in Kodagu district over the past week, and mist in the evening has forced officials to end operations early. However, the rains have reduced in the last two days. Virajpet taluk received 16 mm rainfall on Friday, down from over 100 mm last week. In the week before the landslide, the taluk received 905 mm of rainfall.
Residents of Thora have been visiting the spot of the landslide over the past week in the hope of news from rescue groups about those who are missing. Among them is 45-year-old Prabhu Kumar, a resident of the village who has constantly been with rescue groups after his mother, wife and two daughters went missing on the day of the landslide. His wife, Anusuya (40), was found dead on Monday, but three other family members are still missing.
“He has been visiting the landslide spot every day since the disaster. Many residents have pitched in to help the rescue groups search for the missing people. We want to find them even though we know that there is almost no chance of survival now,” said NC Vijay Kumar, a resident of the village.
Mamata and Likhita, the wife and daughter of another resident of the village, Paramesh, were found last Saturday after Paramesh's son Nishant guided rescue groups to the spot where he could see their household items.
Two teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are carrying out search operations along with officials from Garuda forces. “We are zeroing in on the areas we need to search by looking for spots where household materials are seen. This indicates that one of the missing people could be nearby, but the rains have turned the entire area into a mass of slush and mud. We are trying to canvass the entire area and dig deep to ensure that we are searching all possible spots,” an NDRF official said.