Seven-year-old Muthulakshmi, who fell into a deep borewell at a field near here on Saturday morning and was rescued after a 15-hour struggle, was declared dead at the Government Headquarters Hospital, Karur, late night.

Muthulakshmi was brought to the surface at 10.35 p.m., following strenuous efforts by rescuers and rushed to Karur GH.

Though the borewell is 900 feet deep, the child was trapped only 12 feet below the surface. The hole through which she fell is just a foot in diameter, which made it difficult for rescuers to reach her. The diameter of the borewell tapers to three quarters of a foot beyond 12 feet depth. Rescuers had arranged for oxygen for the trapped child.

At 8 a.m., Muthulakshmi, daughter of Chinna Poosari of Puthur near Vadamadurai in neighbouring Dindigul district, was playing with her sisters Vijayalakshmi (3) and Dhanalakshmi (1) in the field when she accidentally stepped on the poorly covered borewell that was abandoned only a couple of days back. Immediately, her sisters raised an alarm, and their grandmother Chinnathayee rushed to the spot and tried to reach her by lowering her saree into the crevice.

On being alerted, locals rushed to the spot. Later, personnel belonging to Fire and Rescue Services and medical relief teams joined them. Even in the commotion, the child sounded confident and responded to the calls of rescuers.

Earthmovers, backhoe loaders and excavators were pressed into service. Rescuers, including the girl’s father, digged a pit four feet away to reach the child.

An innovator from Madurai, who had developed a special device to rescue children trapped in borewells came to know of Muthulakshmi’s plight and got in touch with authorities, who arranged for his travel and that rescue team reached the site by 5 p.m.