Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has tweeted condolences to the families of those killed by a landslide in Kerala's Idukki district on Friday. Mr Gandhi, who is the Lok Sabha MP for Wayanad district in the state, which has also received heavy rainfall, appealed to the state to rescue those still trapped.
"My condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the landslide in Munnar, Kerala. I request the state government to bring those trapped to safety. I urge all Congress workers to assist in rescue and relief work," Mr Gandhi tweeted.
"The central and state governments should provide immediate assistance to the poor plantation worker families," he said in a second tweet.
In a post on his Facebook account, Mr Gandhi expressed concern for his constituency and said he was "closely tracking the situation over there".
"The yearly flooding and landslides in Kerala are a grim reminder that we have to work harder to protect our environment and create sustainable development models that allow us to cope with changing weather patterns and extreme climatic disturbances," he wrote.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted, saying he was "pained by the loss of lives" and announced compensation, from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund, of Rs 2 lakh each to family members of those killed and Rs 50,000 to those who were injured.
Pained by the loss of lives due to a landslide in Rajamalai, Idukki. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly. NDRF and the administration are working on the ground, providing assistance to the affected.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 7, 2020
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also offered his condolences, and said: "Have spoken to DG NDRF. Their team has reached the spot to provide all possible assistance to the administration with the rescue work. May injured recover soon".
Condolences to the bereaved families of those who have lost their lives in Rajamalai, Idukki(Kerala) due to landslide.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) August 7, 2020
Have spoken to DG NDRF, their team has reached the spot to provide all possible assistance to the administration with the rescue work. May injured recover soon.
At least 15 people have been killed after heavy rain caused a landslide in the Rajamalai area of Idukki district, which is around 25 km from popular tourist town Munnar, in the early hours of Friday morning.
Fifteen others have been rescued, so far, and are undergoing treatment at the Tata General Hospital in Munnar. Cost of treatment will be borne by the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, while announcing Rs 5 lakh compensation for the families of those killed.
Officials said around 80 people lived in the area where the landslide occurred, adding that they do not know, at this point, how many more are still trapped under the mud.
Taluk officials said a connecting bridge was swept away yesterday, making access to the area difficult. Rescue teams have also been slowed by tough terrain and problems in establishing communications.
A 50-member strong special task force of the state fire service - equipped for night-time work - are among the emergency services personnel sent, Chief Minister Vijayan has said. The Chief Minister's Office has also sought help from IAF helicopters to aid in rescue efforts.
An NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) team has reached the landslide site.
Chief Minister Vijayan said a second NDRF team, based in Thrissur, was en route and police, fire service personnel and forest and revenue officials had been asked to join rescue efforts.
Idukki district has also seen floods in other low-lying areas, like Munnar. Night-time travel has been banned there, the state disaster management authority was quoted by news agency PTI, adding that several roads and highways had been closed due to rains.
Kerala: Flood-situation in Wayanad district's Panamaram due to continuous rainfall since last three days pic.twitter.com/3KIpbAz0j7— ANI (@ANI) August 7, 2020
Rain and landslides also disrupted life in the Kurichiyarmala area of Mr Gandhi's Wayanad district, where two houses have been damaged so far, according to news agency ANI. The Panamaram area has also reported floods after rainfall for three days.
A red alert has been issued for tomorrow (August 8) for Idukki, Thrissur, Wayanad and Palakkad districts, while an orange alert has been sounded for all other districts except Thiruvananthapura.
Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod districts have been placed under orange alert for Sunday (August 9).
With input from ANI, PTI