80-hour operation fails to rescue Sujith Wilson; people line up on roads to bid tearful farewell to two-year-old.
The more than 80-hour long battle to save two-year-old Sujith Wilson, who had fallen into an abandoned borewell at Nadukattupatti, near Manapparai, in Tamil Nadu on Friday, failed on Tuesday with rescue workers managing to retrieve only his “highly decomposed and dismembered” body.
The boy was formally declared dead at 2.30 a.m. and his body was retrieved by teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force a couple of hours later.
The body, covered by a polythene sheet, was shifted for post-mortem to the Manapparai Government Hospital and then to the burial ground for the final rites as people lined up on the roads to bid a tearful farewell.
The mortal remains were laid to rest at a graveyard at Fathima Pudur shortly after 8 a.m. as relatives and well-wishers grieved in silence. The funeral prayer service was conducted by the local parish priest of Avarampatti.
Commissioner of Revenue Administration J. Radhakrishnan said rescue workers had noticed foul smell emanating from the abandoned borewell around 10 p.m on Monday.
Special equipment used
As per the NDRF’s guidelines, the decision to remove his remains from the borewell was made. “Soon, special equipment was used to retrieve him from the well. A team of doctors took around 45 minutes to confirm his death and give a detailed report,” he said.
A pall of gloom pervaded Fathima Pudur in Malaiyadipatti panchayat, the native village of the child’s family, and in neighbouring Vilankurichi and surroundings.
Relatives wailed as they had a last glimpse of the coffin. The parents of the child were inconsolable as hundreds of relatives and well-wishers from surrounding villages paid homage at the graveyard. Sixty-year-old Subramani, a family friend, said nobody was allowed to witness the retrieval operation or the body. Relatives of the family admitted that retrieving the body was difficult since the diameter of the borewell into which the boy had fallen was just four inches.
Although efforts were on to dig an adjacent passage to reach the two-year-old for over 36 hours, NDRF and SDRF officials began attempts to lift the boy through the opening of the abandoned borewell at around 1.20 a.m. on Tuesday.
Sujith had fallen into the borewell while playing with his brother at 5.30 pm on Friday evening and went silent after 5 a.m. on Saturday. A slew of attempts by multiple teams of experts with experience in such rescue missions had failed following which huge rigs were moved to the site to dig a passage way. But the rigs too struggled to drill through the hard rock at the site.
Meanwhile, both the abandoned borewell and the adjacent passage dug to rescue the boy were filled with concrete within hours of his burial under the supervision of Collector S. Sivarasu.