A five-year-old girl was brought out from an abandoned borewell after an eight-hour rescue effort on Saturday, but her ordeal reached a tragic end as she died in the Government Vellore Medical College Hospital later.
The child fell into the borewell dug on a groundnut field at Pulavanpadi village near Arani in Tiruvannamalai district, sparking a marathon rescue operation by fire and rescue services personnel.
It was one more incident that exposed the callousness of borewell owners who failed to close the defunct facility, leading to the death of an unsuspecting child. The rescue operation supervised by District Collector A. Gnanasekaran was pursued in earnest, but what was glaring through the day was that the Fire and Rescue Services Team was ill-equipped for such an effort. Techniques used and service rendered by volunteers from Madurai and Puducherry helped rescuing the girl, though it was late.
Devi, an LKG student in a local nursery school, was accompanying her mother Malarkodi to their groundnut field on Saturday morning. While the mother was busy, the girl was playing in neighbouring groundnut field owned by Sankar. Around 7 a.m., she inadvertently stepped into the bore well, which was covered with just a plastic sheet.
Rushing to her rescue, the villagers extended a rope and asked the girl to hold it. However, she slipped deeper in the borewell. An hour went by before a fire service team reached the spot.
As the 300-foot deep well failed to yield any water, its owner had pulled out the PVC pipe insulation from its wall. Hence, the rescue team first inserted a PVC pipe into the hole to prevent the mud from caving in while they were digging. A parallel well was dug beside the borewell with the help of earth movers and motorised crowbars.
A medical team camped at the spot and oxygen supply was maintained by a long catheter injected into the well. Earthmovers and crowbars were alternated during the digging as rescuers wanted to make sure the mud did not cave in. After achieving a depth of about 20 feet, they made a hole laterally and called out to the child. Hearing her response, they tied a knot on her hands, thanks to expert help by K. Thangaraj, a Puducherry-based software professional.
However, they could not pull her up, as the rope snapped twice. At about 5 pm, a seven-member team from TVS Community College, Madurai, led by Manikandan, reached the spot with special equipment they have developed specifically for rescuing children trapped in borewells.
Mr. Thangaraj managed to get a rope tied to the girl. She was pulled out by 6.15 p.m. more than nine hours after she fell into the well. She was immediately taken to the Government Vellore Medical College Hospital. According to hospital sources she was brought in bad shape and they could not save her.