By P.T. Bopanna
This is the first person account of a lady planter living alone who survived the killer landslides that hit Coorg recently.
Vani’s house is located at Hatti near Madikeri, the district headquarters of Coorg. Vani, daughter of Dr Pattadmada Appachu, of Gonikoppal, was living alone in the house after her husband passed away three months ago.
There were warning signals in the last couple of months about the impending disaster. Tremors were felt two months ago in the area, situated near Kotebetta, the third highest peak in Coorg.
On August 16 evening, the villagers around Hatti, near the small town of Madapur, where the estate of Indian tennis player Rohan Bopanna is located, heard reports that there were cracks in the giant Kottebetta mountain and water was gushing out from the cracks.
The mood in the village was that there was going to a major natural calamity in the area, known for its scenic beauty.
Vani, who is now staying with her sister at Gonikoppal, told this reporter: “Around 11.30 in the night, there was a deafening sound as though the earth was splitting followed by the noise of falling trees all around.”
Meanwhile, a neighbor also rushed to her house and they decided to leave the house at once in the dead of the night. After locking the house, they walked through coffee estates in the slush with the help of a torch to guide them, and managed to reach Kannakolli and took shelter in a relative’s house.
At daybreak, the house where they had taken refuge, the bund in front of the house began sliding and water started gushing out of the cracks.
Frightened by the developments, all of them left the house and began walking towards Suntikoppa town. When they reached Paplikad estate, they noticed rescuers at a road below. All of them were taken down through a rope to board a lorry which was already full of villagers fleeing from landslides.
On reaching Suntikoppa, Vani contacted her son in Bengaluru, who arranged to have her picked up by a relative.
Vani, who is staying with her sister at Gonikoppal, is yet to recover from the ordeal, but managed to meet relatives and friends visiting her to enquire about her well-being.
She said: “I am too scared to go back to my house now. I am not sure whether the house is still intact.”