TN prays as toddler battles for life at bottom of borewell
Tamil Nadu

TN prays as toddler battles for life at bottom of borewell

S Murari

Sujith Wilson, a two-year- old son of coolies who fell into an abandoned borewell at 5.40 am. on  Friday, continued to battle for life 24 hours later with the National and State disaster response forces leaving no stone unturned as the whole of Tamil Nadu waited for him to come out alive. The accident happened in Nadukattupattu village near Manapparai in Tiruchi district.

The tragedy was that the well was dug by parents Britto Arogyaraj and Kala Mary five years ago. They abandoned it after failing to spot water. They partially covered the well and raised cholam crop, but not fully. The baby fell into the loose soil and slipped into 30 ft.

After eight hours of struggle, the fire services tried to lift him with hands tied in a tight knot but unfortunately he slipped further and fell deeper into 80 ft.  The deeper the well, the narrower the diameter. As a result, only his hands were visible above the mud which had covered as could be seen through comeras lowered into the pit.

Health Minister Vijayabhaskar told reporters after 24 hours passed that a final attempt was being made with the help of Neyveli Lignite Corporation and ONGC experts to dig a parallel well with the help of rigs and try and reach the boy.

Besides , officials of the STDF and NTDF were also on the job and rescue was at a critical stage, he told reporters at the village.

He said a well of three-metre diameter parallel to the well, in which the boy is trapped, was being dug with pile foundation and build a horizontal tunnel to reach the boy at that height.” It will take at least three to four hours to sink a 80 ft well. If hard rocks are encountered, it will take another couple of hours”.

Attempts to reach the boy by excavating nearby areas with the help of earth movers were called off after the machines hit a layer of rock.

Initially one of his hands was tied to a rope sent through a pipe and he remained at a depth of 26 feet.  Attempts to knot the other hand too and pull him up resulted in him slipping to 80 feet at the last moment, Vijayabhaskar said.

By then seven hours had passed and Health Secretary Dr Radhakrishnan contacted NDRF commander Rekha Nambiar who sent a 20-member team from Arakonam which reached the site around noon. She said it was a problem peculiar to India and they had to use indigenous technology.

Dr Vijayabhaskar said that no sound had come from the child for the last 12 hours as he was covered with loose, wet mud. Breathing sound was last heard at 5.30 am. More oxygen was being pumped into the well to help the boy to breathe.

Tamil Nadu Fire Services DGP Gandhi Rajan has reached the spot. He said a trained expert from his department would be sent down through the parallel well once it was ready as use of robotic arm failed to lift the boy.

The Rs 8 crore rig would reach the village to rig a parallel one-metre diameter well upto 80 feet with a gap of three metres from the one in which the boy is trapped. “It’s a great challenge and a combined decision has been taken by the NDRF and SDRF teams as well as the DGP ”.

Ambulances and doctors are standing by to take the boy to Manaparai hospital if he is rescued. The parents are in prayers.Similar prayers are being held at temples, churches and mosques all over the State.