Babu survived a second fall in two days while awaiting rescue from the hill

Babu survived a second fall in two days while awaiting rescue from the hill
(L) A photograph of Babu stuck in the first rock cleft taken by a drone on Tuesday. (R) Babu being rescued from the crevice he got stuck into after the second fall.

Palakkad: Soon after 23-year-old R Babu was rescued from the rocky Kurumbachi Hill in Malampuzha on Wednesday, nearly 43 hours after he was stuck in a cleft, it has come to light that he had in fact slipped and fell twice, not once as it was widely believed.

Babu first fell into the crevice on the 1,000-meter tall hill, which is located near in house in Cherad, near Malampuzha, while going downhill on Monday afternoon. He slipped and fell down but luckily got trapped in the cleft, 400 m down, on the face of the hill. He fell 20ft down from this spot, 34 hours after his first fall. On both the occasions luck favoured him as he didn't plunge down to the ravine 600 ft below.

The second fall happened around Tuesday midnight as Babu tried to lift his leg after suffering from muscle cramps. But he had a miraculous escape as his leg got wedged between another fissure.

Babu was rescued by the Indian Army from the hill a little before Wednesday noon.

'Just routine mission'

Lieutenant Colonel Hemanth Raj of the Madras Regiment Centre, who was part of the rescue operation, said that the mission in Malampuzha was a routine one for the Army.

"Apart from the difficulty in reaching the spot, this was a very routine mission, as far as we are concerned. In Kashmir and the north-east states, we are involved in such rescue missions frequently,” explained Hemanth Raj, a native of Ettumanoor in Kottayam.

Two army teams, with 24 members, arrived at Malampuzha for the rescue mission on Tuesday night.

"We did not face any major hurdles as the personnel are all well-trained even in mountaineering. We were well-prepared as we left for Malampuzha. Since we were not familiar with the area where the youth was trapped, we carried out a study using Google Maps," he added.

Hemanth Raj was involved in the rescue operations even during the massive floods of 2018. He had received the President's Vishisht Seva Medal in 2019.

Bala lauds Babu's courage

B Balakrishnan (Bala), a soldier from Wellington in Ooty, had descended the steep hill using ropes to reach the spot where Babu was trapped. Bala first provided Babu with water and food.

A video of Babu kissing Bala after reaching the safety of the hilltop has gone viral. Babu also hailed the Indian soldiers.

But Bala responded by saying that – “For us, saving Babu's life was important. We also laud his courage.”

Kerala youth trapped in Palakkad hill cleft
Drone visual of R Babu, a 23-year-old from Cheradu, Malampuzha, who had slipped and fell into a hill cleft in Palakkad's Malampuzha.

The Army personnel and the rescue workers too point out that any other person, trapped in the crevice for this long, would have been so terrified that they are unlikely to survive.

Babu was trapped in the hill crevice for 43 hours in the sweltering heat of the day and the cold of night, without even water. But he was familiar with the region and the hill, and the belief that he would be rescued gave solace to Babu during those terrifying hours.

Health update

After being rescued, Babu is now recuperating well at the Palakkad district hospital. He will be under observation for 24 hours at the intensive care unit of the hospital. His health condition is improving.

His mother Rasheeda said that Babu has started eating normally. “There are no internal injuries or bruises, according to the doctors. We will be informed today about when he can be discharged,” Rasheeda told the Manorama News.

Though he was thoroughly exhausted as he got off on to the helipad at the BEML ground at Kanjikode on Wednesday, Babu appeared undeterred.

District Medical Officer Dr K P Reetha, and district hospital doctors K Sachin and Basil Hussain gave the first-aid. The IV fluid and the injections to alleviate fatigue were administered in the vehicle itself.

Kerala youth trapped in Palakkad hill cleft for over 24 hours; rescue mission on
Selfies and photographs sent by R Babu using his mobilephone while he was stuck at the hill cleft. Photo: Manorama News

He was then taken to the district hospital, where an expert team of doctors examined him. Efforts were also made to prevent dehydration. An X-ray revealed that there were no fractures.

The district medical officer spoke to Babu on Wednesday evening and noted that his health status was satisfactory.

Babu loves travelling

Babu, who dropped out of Class 10, does odd jobs to earn a living. He had worked as an electrician and a painter, and had also gone for fabrication works.

He had taken up the job of delivering newspapers in the Cherad region of Malampuzha four months ago. This also made Babu a familiar face in the area. Babu's bother Shaji does welding work. The family is dependent on the children's earnings.

Babu, who loves to travel and watch movies, has a good circle of friends. He also posts about his trips with friends on social media. But one such trip put his life at risk.

Beware of the hill!

The Kurumbachi Hill had even been part of movie sequences. In the popular Malayalam film 'Yoddha', directed by Sangeeth Sivan, Mohanlal's character Ashokan is training for martial arts in these hills.

But it is not easy for the public to reach this spot even though it is a film shooting location.

Kerala youth trapped in Palakkad hill cleft for over 24 hours; rescue mission on
The Kurumbachi Hill where Babu is trapped at, (R) Babu stuck at the cleft. Photo: Manorama, Manorama News

The forest department personnel caution that it is dangerous to climb up the hill. It was earlier known as Koormbachi Hill, indicating sharp rocky edges. But then it became Kumbachi Hill over time.

There are very few trees and it is mostly thorny shrubs that grow on rocky terrain. There is hardly any green cover in the hill ranges even during the monsoon. As the rock heats up, the valley also experiences severe heat. The sharp boulders are also dangerous. Even if a person manages to climb up to the hill top, there is no magnificent view, according to the forest department.

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