Slab on pavement was missing on PVS Road; body recovered 300 m away

In a clear pointer to the city’s lack of preparedness to meet the oncoming monsoon, a middle-aged woman died after she fell into an open sewerage drain in the city on Saturday evening which saw a heavy downpour.

Her body was found three hours later, about 300 metres away from the spot where she fell. Eyewitnesses and local people said that the woman, identified as Ayesha Bi of Kinassery here, was rushing home after attending a wedding at Francis Road in the city.

She was accompanied by two of her friends. Since it was raining heavily and no public vehicles were available, the three of them had crossed unmanned rail tracks to reach PVS Road and were walking to the bus stop. The road was covered in darkness as none of the streetlights were working on the stretch. Besides, power cut had added to the lack of visibility on the water-logged road.

Eyewitnesses said Ayesha was walking fast, anxious to reach home. She had climbed on to the pavement on PVS Road – a thoroughfare leading to the Calicut Railway Station named after a private hospital on the stretch.

“I saw her walking quickly ahead of her friends. She must have thought that all the slabs on the pavement were in place. She would not have noticed that the slab just after the hospital’s ‘IN’ gate was missing. She just disappeared in a second. For a minute we did not understand what happened,” Jamal P. said, showing the deep hole where the pavement slab is missing.

Local people say that there is a huge flow of water in the drain whenever it rains. Besides, there is a 12-metre deep culvert running perpendicular to the drain immediately near the spot where Ms. Ayesha fell.

“The debris and sewage from all over the city flows through this culvert. It has been raining for five hours straight this evening. It is unprecedented. We are not very hopeful about her,” a senior fire official said when asked about the rescue operation. Minutes later, shouts could be heard from the other side of the rail tracks that the body had been found. In a short while, an ambulance sped past with the body to the medical college.

Three-hour search

“We have been searching since 7 p.m., when she fell. It has been three hours. I have been cleaning the drains in this locality for many years and so I know the flow of water. But working in the dark with no lights and heavy rain was tough,” Radhakrishnan K., sanitation worker, who found the body trapped inside the drain, said.

“Slabs are removed from the pavements for no reason. No repair is done. She just wanted to go home. She looked so frail,” an eyewitness said.

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