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Hudhud: five tribals buried alive in landslide in Andhra Pradesh’s Araku

Issue Date:
2014-10-16

With this, cyclone death toll has reached 35

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Five adivasis have been killed in a landslide in Andhra Pradesh that followed the torrential rains after the landfall of severe cyclone Hudhud. The incident took place in Medarasola village of Madula gram panchayat in Visakhaptanam’s Araku tribal block. With this, the Hudhud death toll has touched 35.

The incident took place on the evening of October 12, the day Hudhud hit Andhra coast near Visakhapatnam. The village has only five tribal families living at the foot of the hill. All the five houses have been washed away, killing five members of one family. “A house was crushed by boulders and buried under mud. Barring two people who managed to escape, the others were buried alive,” said Araku police sub-inspector I G Narayana Rao.

Those who lost their lives are: Gamili Pottu, Gamili Subba Rao, G Sundo, G Ashok, and G Shobamma. A woman, Gamili Bondu, saved her husband. They tried to remove the debris but couldn’t. The others in the family perished.

According to Narayana Rao, the roads were blocked and there was no communication. The message reached the local tahsildar only a day later.

On October 10, two days before Hudhud’s landfall, Down To Earth had published a report pointing out how vulnerable the Araku region is to landslides after cyclones. [2]

Araku: a village prone to landslides 
On the night of August 3 in 2006, there was a severe landslide in Kodipunjulavalasa village in Araku as an outcome of a cyclone that hit Puri in Odisha. As many as 18 people were killed in the landslide and 30 were severely injured. Again in October 2012, a train had derailed in Araku after a landslide that occurred when Nilam, a severe tropical cyclone, made landfall at Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.

There are studies pointing to the loose soil structure of the Araku region on the Eastern Ghats, making it highly vulnerable to landslides.

However, whenever, cyclones happen, most of the evacuation and relief work is focused on the coastal regions while remote and interior adivasi regions get ignored. Almost all the tribal villages in the Fifth Schedule areas of Visakhapatnam are extremely poor and backward, without access to electricity, communication and healthcare facilities.

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