A man was rescued from a well that caved in, trapping him beneath nearly 20 feet of mud, after a gritty effort that spanned nearly six hours near Vizhinjam, about 15 km from the city on Sunday.
Babu, 40, from Thenoorkonam near Vizhinjam, along with his 16-year-old son, Jithu, and brother-in-law, Sanal, 33, had taken up a contract job to dig a well for Jerome in the latter’s courtyard. The work began work at around 10 a.m. The new well was being dug less than two feet away from a recently filled up well in the same narrow courtyard. An hour later, as Babu and Sanal dug deeper into the earth, the walls of the new well began caving in. Finding the two getting buried, Jithu, who was standing above, jumped in immediately. In 10 minutes, he managed to pull Sanal out.
Babu, however, was completely trapped under the heavy load of mud and Jithu, digging furiously with bare hands, tried to remove the mud around his face, and finally succeeded in bringing Babu out a little, till his nostrils. That effort proved to be the life-saving act for Babu, who was then supplied oxygen by a team from the Vizhinjam Primary Health Centre.
Fire and Rescue personnel from Vizhinjam too arrived, to be joined by another team from the Chengalchoola Fire Station and the Vizhinjam police. An ambulance from the 108 Emergency Services also reached the spot, assisting to keep Babu conscious as the rescuers tried to remove the mud around him. However, with the loose walls of the well beginning to cave in more, the efforts hit a block. Even the weight of people in the courtyard and surroundings turned out to be a threat and The Army was called from the Pangode Military Camp.
The Army personnel’s efforts, however, met a nought with the extremely narrow lane to Jerome’s house. The rescuers then hit upon the idea of a parallel well, and in about three hours, a parallel opening up to the depth where Babu was trapped was dug. The mud from the new well was then pulled into this, basket by basket, bucket by bucket.
The excruciatingly slow task, made tougher by intermittent drizzles and the danger of the other walls caving in at any moment, finally met with success at around 4.45 p.m., nearly six hours after Babu was trapped beneath the avalanche of wet mud.
Shaken, numb, dehydrated and in pain, Babu was then rushed to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, where his condition was stated to be stable. P.K. Girija, Additional District Magistrate and in-charge Collector, K. Shivanandan, Director (Technical), Fire and Rescue Services Headquarters, Vizhinjam Circle Inspector Stuart Keeler, Major Avinesh and team from the Pangode Military Camp, and two medical squads led by District Medical Officer T. Peethambaran, along with a handful of local volunteers were involved in the effort that ended on a triumphant note.