Madikeri: As floods and landslides have left a trail of destruction in Kodagu, permanently scarring the district, the next task for the Armed Forces is to retrieve the dead bodies before the spread of epidemics.
The Kodagu District Administration has put the official figures of the dead at nine and missing persons at six. The uniformed men are still scouting for bodies that might have been trapped in slush.
With bare hands (minus the mandatory gloves), Armed Forces teams are combing vast swathes of land, looking out for bodies. As earth has caved-in in over 2,000 acres of land creating deep gorges of slush and red mud, especially in Makkandur, Katakeri, Meghathalu, Yemmethaalu, Monnangeri, Mangaladevinagar and parts of Kaloor in Madapura, rescue teams are using helicopters and ropes to scale down the hilly terrain. These were thickly populated areas and are desolated now.
Once the chopper reaches the target area, soldiers scale down the flying machine using ladders and ropes. They then begin physical scanning of the area. Based on experience, the Armed Forces first survey the surroundings for foul smell as the bodies would have been highly decomposed by now.
Narrating the sequence of body-retrieving operation, Major Biddappa of Dogra Regiment said that once the smell is detected, the area is surveyed closely. “Usually, the place where a dead body is hidden under slush is full of flies as the bodies would be undergoing the natural process of putrefaction (the process of decay or rotting in a body or any organic matter with unbearable smell). We had retrieved the body of Leelavathi (60) and her son Umesh Rai (32) from a deep gorge that has been created by landslips,” he said.
Providing details, he said, “We identified a place that emanated heavy stench. Out of experience when we went there, we found a hand protruding and we also found a human head that was swarmed by flies. When the place was dug, the bodies appeared.” The bodies were later cremated.
As the area is slushy and slippery, the team members have to wear knee-length boots. Surprisingly, they were not wearing gloves and were seen digging out the bodies with bare hands.