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Updated: July 7, 2013 08:48 IST

Worker dies while cleaning stormwater drain in Chennai

D. Madhavan
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The 36-year-old suffocated while cleaning a stormwater drain in Old Washermenpet. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam
The 36-year-old suffocated while cleaning a stormwater drain in Old Washermenpet. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

For about a week, a team of contract workers have been cleaning narrow, closed stormwater drains connected through small manholes in the Old Washermenpet area

For nearly an hour and a half, a 36-year-old contract worker shouted for help from inside a narrow stormwater drain in Old Washermenpet on Saturday. But no help arrived, and K. Sekar, a resident of Vyasarpadi, suffocated and died.

This is the second such incident in two months. In May, two men suffocated while working in an 18-foot deep manhole in Mogappair East.

For about a week, a team of contract workers have been cleaning narrow, closed stormwater drains connected through small manholes on Balu Mudali Street.

On Saturday, Sekar went into one of the manholes around 3 p.m. and was clearing the sludge, mud and domestic waste that had accumulated in the concrete drain.

As the drain was four-feet deep and two-feet wide, Sekar had to practically swim through dirty water between manholes while he cleared the sludge. In the third manhole, which was closed, he collapsed. A colleague who was helping him, looked for him everywhere, including at a nearby Tasmac shop, not realising he was trapped in the drain. She then alerted the contractor, who opened the manhole and managed to get Sekar out.

Sekar was rushed to Government Stanley Hospital where he was declared ‘brought dead’.

A case has been filed.

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