Twelve-year-old Vignesh, a resident of Bharati Nagar in Korukkupet, was in a state of shock and could hardly speak. The sight of his best friend struggling to stay afloat in water on Wednesday evening continues to haunt him.

Around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, it was yet another fine evening as Vignesh and his friend and neighbour Karan Kumar (12) indulged in a game of hide and seek on the banks of the Buckingham Canal in Bharati Nagar. “Karan was running behind me to touch me when he slipped and fell from the slope into the drainage. He began gasping for air and struggling in the water. I ran to my street and brought people to the spot but there was no sign of Karan,” recalled Vignesh.

A group of men fished out Karan's body from the water and rushed him to a hospital nearby but only to pronounced as ‘brought dead' by doctors there. “I saw him drop his school bag and run away with his friend to play. I never thought that was the last time I will see my child,” said an inconsolable Devi, Karan's mother. The boy had joined class VI in the Chennai Boys School in Harinarayanapuram three days ago.

The Water Resources Department had begun work on the canal a year ago and the widening process was under way.

A retaining wall along the north side of the Canal was built and a mud road for inspection of work was formed also to carry materials. The spot where the accident took place was the work space for the project but water had accumulated over time, sources with the WRD said. The residents of the nearby areas have been using the mud road and the banks as a toilet and children play on the spot and also indulge in fishing in the Canal without realising the danger, sources added.

Karan's body was sent for a post-mortem examination at the Government Stanley Hospital and handed over to his parents on Thursday afternoon. R.K. Nagar police registered of unnatural death.

Keywords: drowning death

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