A boy stuck in an 18-metre well infested with snakes and scorpions in eastern Indian Chhattisgarh has been rescued after a 105-hour ordeal.
Rahul Sahu, 10, who is deaf and mute, was rescued from the defunct bore-well in the garden of his home in Piharid village, Chhattisgarh state, late on Tuesday.
He had accidentally slipped into the well ― which was dug by his father but left uncovered ― on Friday last week.
Rahul’s family realised he was in the well after they heard cries. They informed local authorities and rescue workers began to dig a shaft near the well to reach the boy.
Vijay Agarwal, Superintendent of Police in Janjgir-Champa district, told The National it was a difficult operation.
"The whole team worked for 105 hours continuously without stopping. It was a work of patience and courage as we had to go through the 70 feet [18 metres] inside of the tunnel," the police official said.
“It was dangerous for the staff and team but we are happy that Rahul is rescued. He is safe and doing well,”
Visuals shared by emergency workers on Twitter showed the moment the boy was carried on a stretcher and taken straight to an ambulance.
When he was brought out, Rahul was weak because he had a limited intake of food and fluids.
He looked surprised by the presence of hundreds of emergency workers, who cheered him on after desperately waiting for his rescue.
The state administration had earlier on Tuesday said that he was “breathing but not showing clear movement”.
Authorities said he was immediately rushed to a specialist hospital in the nearby Bilaspur district, using what is known as a green corridor where all the traffic lights along the ambulance’s route are kept green to speed the drive.
“During this entire operation, little Rahul also showed extraordinary courage and patience. Now he is being taken to the hospital from the green corridor where a special team of doctors will check up him,” said Dipanshu Khabra, Additional Director General of Police in Chhattisgarh.
More than 500 personnel from National Disaster Response Force, army and local police, dug the 21-metre shaft parallel to the tunnel to reach Rahul.
A four-metre tunnel was also constructed to connect the pit to the bore-well and bring out Rahul safely.
Authorities said it was a challenging operation as Rahul cannot speak or listen and could not respond to commands.
Emergency workers also faced the challenges of drilling the tunnel due to the presence of hard rocks and fears of debris caving in.
“There were sedimentary and granite rocks and when the team reached Rahul there was a problem of stone cutting because if we used tools it could harm him, so we did that manually,” Mr Agarwal said.
Authorities roped in robotics experts and advanced machines to cut through rocks and speed up the efforts.
They also sought the help of local villagers to pump water out continuously as rapid groundwater recharge posed a danger at the depth where Rahul was stuck.
Supplies of anti-venom were also brought in amid fears that the bore-well was infested with snakes and scorpions.
“Our child is very brave. He was accompanied by a snake and a frog in the pit for 104 hours. Today the whole of Chhattisgarh is celebrating the festival,” state Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel tweeted.
He was closely monitoring the situation and giving updates on the microblogging site over the past four days.