National Disaster Response Force kerala
Volunteers, local residents and members of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) search for survivors in the debris left by a landslide at Puthumala at Meppadi in the Wayanad district of the Indian state of Kerala on August 10. Floods have killed at least 100 people and displaced hundreds of thousands across much of India with the southern state of Kerala worst hit, authorities said on August 10. Image Credit: AFP

Thiruvananthapuram: Nearly three weeks after rain waters and a landslide buried a mountainside at Kavalapara near Nilambur in Kerala’s Malabar region, the search and rescue team officially ended its operations on Sunday. At least 59 people are believed killed in the incident, and 48 bodies have been recovered so far.

While ending the search operations, the Kerala Fire and Rescue Services personnel left a touching note on social media, stating that “the eleven names will continue to be a throbbing pain in our hearts”.

In the note they said: “We are returning. You will continue to remain a matter of unending pain in our minds. Our tearful homage”, and went on to detail the emotions of the team as it went about searching for bodies for 18 days before giving up the search operations.

“There are limits to the efforts of men and machines. In front of some decisions of nature, how helpless are men! A tragedy that befell on the dreams of 59 people in a moment!” the note said.

The team expressed satisfaction that it could locate 48 bodies, and listed the names of the 11 still missing — Imbipalan, Subramanian, Jishna, Sunita, Sreelakshmi, Shyam, Karthik, Kamal, Sujith, Santhakumari and Perakan — saying their memories would remain.

“You will not remain buried under the depth of nearly 40 feet of earth that piled up when the Muthappan hill witnessed a landslide, but remain shining stars in the sky of the minds of us, rescue workers,” the note said.

In the days immediately following the flood and landslips at Kavalapara earlier this month, a local mosque had also caught attention by offering its prayer hall to be temporarily used as a mortuary as bodies were being recovered by search teams. Doctors used the hall to conduct autopsies on the bodies recovered from the accident site.

The mosque offered its hall because the nearest government hospital equipped to conduct autopsies was more than 40km from Kavalapara.