Idukki landslideDate: 13 August 2020 Tags: Disaster & Disaster Management
A landslide occured at Pettimudi, a hamlet under Munnar village panchayat in Kerala’s Idukki district that has killed tea estate workers.
Rajamala includes Eravikulam National Park, and the landslide was triggered from a shola forest region in the national park.
The location where the landslide was triggered has a 40° slope, and any slope above 20° is vulnerable to slipping during heavy rain. The soil has a high content of sand, which absorbs more water, takes a loose form, and is at risk of slipping down.
An analysis of landslides in Idukki by the State Disaster Management Authority has shown that high-intensity rainfall saturates the soil on the slopes.
Soil with higher clay content has high water retention capacity and low drainage capacity, leading to high water pressure in the slope material.
Human interventions such as heavy loading on the slopes caused by buildings on cut-and-fill ground, without adequate protective measures on the uphill and downhill sides, have made the area particularly vulnerable. Frequent slides have resulted in blockage of river channels and changed the river’s course.
Officials said 83 people were living in 30 single-room, sheet-roofed quarters, provided by the estate. 12 of them were rescued by residents of another settlement.
So far, 49 bodies have been recovered in laborious rescue operations. Only a handful of residents, who were away, have survived.
The victims included 31 persons of one extended family who lived in adjacent quarters, and six temporary staff at the Eravikulam National Park. Nineteen schoolchildren have either died or are still missing.