Boy falls into pit; Hopes of rescue dim

Chennai, AUG. 30. Police, fire service, and Army personnel battled for over eight hours this evening, to attempt the rescue of a five-year-old school boy who got trapped in a 35-foot narrow pit dug for a borewell, on Adibagam Street in Mannady.

The child, Tamizhmani, from the neighbouring Rave area was returning home from the Mylappa Chetty Government School with his bag and slate, when he fell into the pit, around 3.15 p.m. Around 10 p.m., the rescue effort was stalled by difficulties, like caving in of mud, and hopes of rescue dimmed.

Initially, local residents made a futile attempt to pull the boy out using a long steel rod and rope. However, they managed to pull out the bag and slate.

Another attempt to pull him out using a hook rope only managed to relieve the child of his shirt. Meanwhile, the boy who fell into a depth of eight feet at first, kept slipping and touched the bottom of the pit.

Around 4 p.m., fire service personnel who reached the spot drew up a plan for the rescue operation. Immediately, oxygen cylinders were brought and streamed into the tunnel. A medical team was stationed and bright lighting was provided.

The residents were advised not to use their toilets, as they were proceeding with digging work. Personnel of the TNEB and the Corporation were also summoned to advise the fire service personnel on the laying of the drainage pipe in the street which was only about 15 feet wide.

An excavator was brought in and digging progressed. Work to create a six-feet wide pit to the tunnel was launched. The fire service Personnel started digging a pit 15 feet deep in a sloping direction towards the tunnel. They planned to dig a bigger pit to rescue the boy, depending on the progress.

A life detector from the fire service was deployed in the tunnel. Even as fire service personnel were working, a video camera was sent into the pit to watch his movements.

The camera showed that he was in an upright position, boosting the hopes of the rescue team. A mobile phone was sent to the child and they could hear him murmuring. Hundreds of people gathered at the spot. However, there were few encouraging signs after 10 p.m.

The police had a tough time controlling the crowd which included a large number of women from the nearby slum area, to which the child belonged. The boy's parents, Mr.Kumar, a casual labourer and mother, Ms. Nirusha, were seen sitting in a shocked state a little distance away from the site.

The population was predominantly of one community and the area recently witnessed violence over water supply.

The borewell was being installed by an individual on the street, outside his house.