A massive landslide hit Kundala, just 20 km away from Munnar on Saturday, the anniversary day of the catastrophic Pettimudi landslide, which killed 70 people.
Huge boulders and mud started rolling down the hill around 1 am on Saturday. The debris flow damaged a temple and two shops located downhill and blocked around half-km stretch of the Munnar – Vattavada road. A huge water tank with a capacity of 45,000 litres was also destroyed.
Vattavada, an agricultural village, has been completely cut off from the rest of the world due to the landslide. Police fire force, Kannan Devan Hill Plantations (KHDP) and local residents have started removing the debris to restore vehicular traffic.
The lives of around 450 people residing in the Puthukadi estate workers’ lane were saved as they were evacuated just minutes before the landslide.
The landslide started at a height of 1 km on a hill covered with shola forest near the top station on Munnar Vattavada road. The location falls under Kundala – Puthukadi divsion of the Senduvarai estate under KHDP.
Around 11.30 pm, the villagers heard a thundering sound and muddy water started flowing down the hill. There were 450 people belonging to 141 families living in 13 workers’ lanes in the valley. As the workers saw the heavy flow of muddy water, they immediately informed the residents and estate authorities evacuated the families.
A huge tragedy was averted as all families were evacuated in time. The debris that came rolling down the hill flowed into a creek on the other side of the highway and there was no damage to the estate lanes.
“Around 11.30 pm, we heard a thundering sound from the hillside and muddy water started flowing down. We immediately informed the authorities and all the 141 families were evacuated with the help of local residents, estate company staff and the fire and rescue officials,” said Marimuthu, a local resident.
As many as 41 families were shifted to the relief camp at East division school while others went to the residents of their relatives and friends.
Vattavada panchayat president Kavitha Ravikumar said, no fatalities have been reported in the landslide in Puthukadi. Work to restore the road traffic power connectivity is still in progress.
“The timely intervention of the alert residents helped to avert a big tragedy. If the incident had occurred during daytime, it may have claimed lives as the highway is a busy stretch. Tourist vehicles used to stop at the location for sightseeing,” a resident said.