TAMIL NADU

Stranded 160 feet above ground, rescued after 8 hours

R.Sujatha

When the men went up the mast, one of the supporting cables snapped and jammed the motor



“Usually in high-rise buildings we try to reach the accessible floor and then get to the top floors. Here this option was ruled out”



CHENNAI: Two men, who went up a 170-foot-high floodlight at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, on Thursday evening to repair it were stranded there for nearly eight hours after the cable-operated makeshift lift got stuck.

Natarajan and Rajamohan are contract workers of Baron Enterprises, the firm in charge of the maintenance of the floodlights. The usual procedure for the maintenance personnel is to use the cable-operated lift using a motor. The two cables that run parallel below the lift support the platform where the men are stationed.

On Thursday, around noon, as the men went up the mast installed on the Bells Road side of the complex, one of the supporting cables snapped and jammed the motor. “If this had not happened, they could have come down by manually operating the motor through the other cable,” said G. Natarajan, joint secretary, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association.

The maintenance work was being carried out ahead of the one-day-international cricket match to be held at the stadium on December 5.

The Fire and Rescue Services received a call around 4 p.m. and one of its Bronto skylift ladder machine was rushed to the spot.

But the ladder could reach only up to 140 ft whereas the men were stranded around 160 ft. “Usually in high-rise buildings we try to reach the accessible floor and then get to the top floors. Here this option was ruled out,” a fireman said.

Another fire tender and two ladders were called for and attached to the hydraulically operated sky lift. The strong sea breeze and having to manoeuvre the unwieldy machine also delayed the rescue effort.

It took the firemen three attempts before they could position the sky lift and secure the additional ladders to the makeshift platform on which the men were stranded. Around 8 p.m. the two men were brought down. The ladder will be removed after the jammed motor is repaired. The TNCA officials have been advised to cordon off the area to prevent any injury in case of accidental fall of the ladder.

The men, who spent eight hours without water or food, were given a glass of juice each after being rescued.

Mr. Natarajan said three of the lights in the floodlights were not functioning. The floodlights were installed at the stadium around eight years ago.

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