Toddler rescued from 55-ft deep borewell after 48 hours

One-and-a-half-year old Nadeem moments after being rescued from the borewell in Balsamand village of Hisar district on Friday. (Express)

A one-and-a-half-year-old boy who had fallen into a borewell in the Balsamand village of Hisar district was rescued Friday evening after a 48-hour long operation. The rescued child "appeared safe" and was immediately rushed to a hospital for health check up.

Nadeem, son of a construction worker, slipped into a 10-inch wide and 55-foot deep borewell – the administration had initially estimated the depth at 70 feet – while playing near his house Wednesday evening when his family members had gone to collect fruits from neighbouring panchayat land.

"The child has been brought out after a difficult rescue operation. He is totally safe. We have sent him to the medical college at Agroha in Hisar, where doctors will examine him thoroughly and keep him under observation," Hisar's Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Meena said.

A joint team of Army experts and National Disaster Response Team (NDRF) assisted the civil and police authorities in carrying out the rescue operation that lasted close to 48 hours.

Earlier, authorities had started digging a parallel well a little distance away from the borewell and subsequently, they created a tunnel to bring out the child safely.

"After digging a 50-feet vertical shaft parallel to the borewell, the team excavated 37 feet horizontal tunnel to access the borewell shaft. The vertical shaft was dug at some distance to avoid any harm to the child," the DC said.

As the rescuers reached close to the spot where the child was trapped, digging by machines was stopped and was carried out manually to ensure that soil did not fall over the infant, officials said. Local villagers formed a human chain to help authorities in digging the soil.

Hisar IG Amitabh Dhillon praised the sheer courage shown by the rescue team. "It was risky as the horizontal tunnel could cave in under pressure," Dhillon said.

As soon as Nadeem was pulled out from the borewell, the elated villagers started raising slogans like 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'. The Holi celebrations in the village on Thursday remained subdued as everyone was praying for the child's safety.

To ensure successful operation, the administration had encircled the area spread over two acres. A source said that almost 40 JCB machines were pressed into service for digging the shaft, adding that about 100 men from the Army and the NDRF participated in the operation apart from 150 policemen. With the help of night vision camera and CCTV cameras, the authorities had kept an eye on the movements of the kid. Oxygen was also being provided to him with the help of a pipeline. Biscuits and juice boxes were also supplied to the child.

The deputy commissioner had earlier said that legal action would be taken against the person who dug the borewell without taking any permission from the department concerned.

He said a survey would be carried out to find out how many borewells had been left open and could pose danger. The incident has again brought to the fore the dangers posed by uncovered borewells, which have turned into death traps for children.