Two workers died after they were suffocated while working in a canal near Canal Shed Road in Kochi on Sunday.
Madhav, 58, and Raju, 50, both hailing from Tamil Nadu and living near the General Hospital here, were killed after they went into a manhole of the canal for cleaning it.
Police said that both men were working under a contractor engaged in cleaning works for a long time. The contractor had been entrusted by the Kerala Water Authority to clean the drains in the area. The men opened a manhole at Colombo Junction, about 60 cm in diameter, and entered the drain to clean it around 10.50 a.m. Soon after they entered the drain, both became unconscious. Fire and Rescue Services personnel from the Gandhi Nagar and Club Road fire stations arrived on the spot and attempted to rescue them.
“The drain was about 15 feet deep with a width of 1 m. There was very little water in drain, but there was a lot of waste accumulated. Poisonous gases in the drain may have led to their suffocation,” said leading fireman T. Shaji Kumar. Firemen were unable to enter the drain through the small manhole with their breathing apparatus set and oxygen tanks. They released five cylinders of compressed oxygen into the manhole to clear out the air before the firemen were lowered into the drain. “One of them had fallen unconscious flat on his back. The second person had fallen sideways and could at least breathe,” said Mr. Kumar. The firemen pulled out both persons from the drain and rushed them to the General Hospital. Hospital authorities said both persons were dead on arrival.
The police have registered a case of unnatural death and are investigating the incident. An inquest was held on Sunday and a post-mortem will be conducted. Suffocation from poisonous gases in the drain is suspected to be the cause of death.
The relatives of the deceased are expected to arrive on Monday from Tamil Nadu.