Fourteen persons died and several others were reported missing as a string of landslips triggered by heavy downpour battered the high ranges of Idukki and adjoining districts on Monday.
The deceased in Kunchithanni included Pappachan, wife Thankamma, and Sarada and in Cheruthoni siblings Jisna (16) and Josni (12), daughters of Jose, died.
A district where most people are small and marginal farmers, Idukki also suffered heavy crop and property loss. Several persons were reported missing as a huge mound of rock and rubble came crashing down at Chiyyappara in Idukki while relief work was on in the area where landslip occurred in the wee hours.
The number of people who died in Adimali during rescue operations increased to five. Bodies of Joshi (31), devikulam Taluk officer driver Rajan (32), Jibin (11) from Palakkad were identified.
At least 50 people are suspected to have been trapped in the landslide that caused damage to buildings and vehicles. Six people were rescued. Three people are hospitalised. According to witnesses, atleast 10 vehicles were damaged in the natural calamity. Meanwhile, five vehicles fell into a ravine while bad weather halted rescue operations.
Several vehicles were trapped in the debris and rescue work is being hampered as roads to the district got blocked by rubble spawned by landslide and flashfloods.
The sandbanks of the Periyar river in Aluva, where thousands are to converge to perform the Balitharpanam ritual tomorrow on the day of Karkitakavavu, is flooded and the Shiva temple there is almost submerged. Ernakulam District Collector Sheikh Pareed said possibilities of making alternative arrangements for the conduct of the ritual were being explored and the help of Navy sought to tackle the situation. People in affected areas have been shifted to relief camps.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has called an emergency cabinet meeting in the state capital to review the serious situation and gear up the relief operations.
The Indian Meteorological Department has cautioned fishermen against venturing into the sea in the next 48 hours as strong winds of 45-55 kmph could lash coastal areas along with heavy rains.