Hopes dim for child trapped in borewell, mother alleges lax rescue work (Second Lead)

October 10th, 2008 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Sushil KumarAgra, Oct 10 (IANS) More than 30 hours after he fell into a 150 feet deep borewell, two-and-a-half year old Sonu was Friday evening still trapped inside with hopes of his survival dimming. His mother has alleged that rescue workers were slow and could have “speeded up” operations. There has been no movement or sound from the little boy, who had fallen into the narrow pit in Leharkapura village near Agra while playing at 10 a.m. Thursday, raising fears about his survival.

Excavators and other earth moving machines were deployed to dig a parallel tunnel and army personnel were trying desperately to get to the toddler. Officials said oxygen was being pumped in and that an ambulance had been stationed near the site.

“A parallel pit is being dug and oxygen is being supplied through a pipeline,” Senior Superintendent of Police Raghuvir Lal said.

Sonu’s mother told reporters in the evening that the rescue team had not worked during night.

“If they had been serious and speeded up the work perhaps Sonu’s ordeal could have been cut short,” she said.

An official added: “Work is in progress as everyone can see, but it’s taking long for results to concretise.”

Officials at the site said the barrier separating the borewell and the parallel tunnel would be breached and hollow drums placed horizontally to access the borewell.

“It’s a hair raising tale of so many people trying to save a child and the whole nation praying for his safety,” said Subhash Jha, a development functionary of the block.

As senior officials, including the commissioner of the Agra division, the district magistrate and the top police brass, gathered at Leharkapura village near Agra, more machines were pressed into service. But the wet mud was creating problems.

“Right now, we have resorted to manual digging. Rains have been good this year and the water table has gone up,” said an official.

As the hours slipped away, crowds gathered at the site praying for the little boy’s safety. Security personnel were deployed to keep the crowds at bay.

While Sushil Kumar, superintending engineer of the local water supply board (Jal Nigam) has ordered an inquiry, local residents were outraged that the borewell had been left open following a dispute with the engineers.

In response to public ire, the administration has suspended two Jal Nigam officials and ordered an inquiry. The contractor Sanjeev Kumar has been blacklisted.

A few months ago, a little girl, Vandana, had fallen into a borewell in Saiyan block of Agra district. She was pulled out to safety after a gruelling 24-hour operation by the army.

“Even in Vandana’s case around Holi this year, no follow up investigations were carried out,” said angry neighbour Sukh Ram.

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