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Hole on bridge claims girl's life

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DEATH TRAP: A picture of the hole in the pathway on Napier Bridge that claimed the life of a 12-year-old girl on Kaanum Pongal day, taken by a resident on Thursday morning. Authorities closed the hole by afternoon. Photo: Special Arrangement
DEATH TRAP: A picture of the hole in the pathway on Napier Bridge that claimed the life of a 12-year-old girl on Kaanum Pongal day, taken by a resident on Thursday morning. Authorities closed the hole by afternoon. Photo: Special Arrangement

L. Srikrishna

Traffic jam on Kamaraj Salai delays rescuers from reaching hospital in time Traffic jam on Kamaraj Salai delays rescuers from reaching hospital in time

CHENNAI: Kaanum Pongal was memorable for many. But, for one north Chennai family it was a black day.

Twelve-year-old Tamizh Azhagi of Vyasarpadi, who came to the Marina Beach on Wednesday evening, slipped into an uncovered hole on Napier Bridge and eventually died on the way to the hospital as a massive traffic jam delayed her rescuers from reaching the hospital in time. The three-kilometre journey from the Bridge that normally takes 10 minutes took nearly 45 minutes as the entire route was choked with holiday crowds.

Family members said Azhagi and her relatives were walking on the pathway along the median on the bridge around 6 p.m., when relatives discovered she was lost in the crowd. They raised an alarm after they realised she had slipped into a hole created by a missing slab on the pathway. As the girl's relatives shouted for help, a few youths travelling in an MTC bus, came to the rescue.

Passers-by Prabhu and Babu working at the Secretariat's CST Depot jumped into the hole and after about 15 minutes, rescued the girl. She was alive. But they could not rush her to the hospital in the traffic chaos on Kamaraj Salai. She was declared dead on arrival at the Government General Hospital.

On Thursday, Tamizh Azhagi's father Raja (36), a painter, who was weeping uncontrollably at the hospital said his daughter, the youngest of three girls, was a topper in her class. His wife Tulasi was seen narrating to her relatives on how friendly her daughter moved with her classmates and friends.

Raja further said, "We were told that the hole in the Bridge remained open for quite a long time. The authorities, who had closed it hurriedly this morning, could have done it much before Kaanum Pongal day taking into account the huge turnout. The officials responsible should be made accountable for such lapses."

High drama prevailed at the hospital in the afternoon as agitated relatives of Tamizh Azhagi refused to take the body from the hospital seeking action against the erring officials.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Flower Bazaar) S.Choodeswaran said

the relatives received the body only after an assurance that action would be taken against the erring officials.

A case has been registered under Section 174 Cr.P.C (suspicious death). "We have summoned the authorities from Chennai Corporation and State Highways department for inquiry," he added.

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