Rescue workers gather with heavy digging equipment during an operation to rescue a toddler stuck in a deep well near Manapparai town in Tamil Nadu on Monday. Agence France-Presse
Four days after getting stuck in a borewell, three-year-old Sujith Wilson still remained there at 88 feet on Monday evening, and officials said they do not want to give false hopes.
The latest from the spot at 5pm is that a fire and rescue services officer has descended into the hole dug by the rescue team in the afternoon to gain first-hand information on possibilities of rescuing Sujith.
With Sujith stuck at 88 feet, officials said that another pit measuring 98 feet deep is being dug parallel to the borewell, through which rescue personnel will go through, dig a connecting tunnel and pull Sujith out.
Rescue officials were holding discussions to use air filter pipes to remove the sand surrounding the child.
Sand had fallen over the toddler after his fall, leaving only his hands and fingertips visible to the CCTV camera which was later lowered inside the borewell.
Drilling a parallel borewell gathered pace on Monday as light showers which had slowed down rescue operations in Nadukattupatti stopped. A rig from the Oil and Natural Gas Commission was being used, apart from a 1,200-horsepower borewell drilling machine. The machine is being used to drill three holes, each with a diameter of 6 inches to loosen the rocks inside the pit before rescue personnel descend into the new pit.
Revenue Administration Commissioner Radhakrishnan earlier told dozens of mediapersons who had gathered in the Nadukkattupatti, Tiruchirappalli district: “The rescue operations will not be called off at any cost. There will be no let-up in the efforts. At the same time we don’t want to give any false hope to the parents of the child.
“Digging work will be continued up to 98 feet. All efforts will be take to save the child.
“But we want to not give false hopes.” However, Radhakrishnan added: “Whatever is technically possible we are doing. The child is locked in the place now using this technology and he would not drift further. We want to be careful that the child is not affected.” “A parallel borewell is being dug… efforts are on… we have a technical team at the spot comprising officials from L&T, ONGC, Neyveli Lignite Corporation,” Radhakrishnan said.
“Despite best efforts, the rescue teams have not been able to dig beyond 45 feet due to the rocky nature of the terrain,” said Health Minister C. Vijay Baskar who is camping at the village to oversee rescue efforts going on round-the-clock. “We are also looking for other possible alternatives to rescue the boy. Even as the drilling is continued, all experts have been asked to discuss and come up with a final plan,” he said.
“The new borewell being drilled will help a person reach down and rescue the child.” The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) is leading the effort with the support of the state relief force, fire force and the local police.
The child, who was playing in his father’s farm, fell into the well accidentally on Friday. He was stranded at 30 feet initially, but slipped further down but continued to survive on oxygen supply. Officials said the unused well had a depth of nearly 1,000 feet and was closed but opened after heavy rain.
Initial efforts to dig a parallel hole to rescue Sujith was brought to a halt over rocky terrain. Four separate robotic devices rushed by expert groups from Madurai, Namakkal, Coimbatore, and Chennai also failed to yield results.
Even as megastars Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan led Tamil Nadu in prayers for the child, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami visited his grieving parents Wilson and Mary at their home in Nadukkattupatti.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter on Monday and addressed the ongoing rescue operations in Trichy. Modi tweeted that he had spoken to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Palaniswami who had assured him that the government was taking efforts to ensure the safety of the toddler. “My prayers are with the young and brave Sujith Wilson,” Modi tweeted.
The Regional Meteorological Centre in Chennai announced that despite a slight drizzle in Nadukattupatti, the likelihood of heavy rainfall in the village is nil.
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