India: child rescued from deep well in nine-hour ordeal

A team of 70 to rescue the child

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Emergency workers in India have rescued a girl, 1, who was stuck 4.5 metres down a 30-metre borewell on a farm.

The incident took place in a village in Chhatarpur, in central Madhya Pradesh state, on Thursday afternoon, when the girl, named Divyanshi, was playing with other children.

Her mother, Ramsakhi Kushwaha, had gone for a Covid-19 vaccination.

Unable to find her daughter when she returned, Ms Kushwaha and other villagers searched for the child and heard her cries from the well, police said.

The infant emerged unscathed and has been hospitalised. Her condition is stable.

A team of 70 personnel from the State Disaster Emergency Reserve Force, police and army launched a rescue operation at 4.00pm. It took nine hours to free Divyanshi.

They dug into the borewell, which was 30 centimetres at most in diameter, using excavating machines.

Divyanshi was rescued uninjured and taken to hospital. Her condition is stable, police said.

“Villagers heard the child’s cries and informed us. Army, SDRF and local police were roped in and it took seven to eight hours to dig vertically and horizontally. She was safely rescued,” Sachin Sharma, superintendent of police, Chhatarpur, told The National.

“All her vitals are intact; she has no injuries,” Mr Sharma said.

Videos shared by a top administrative official on Twitter showed the moment rescue workers holding the child wrapped in a cloth rushed to an ambulance amid a cheering crowd.

The child was provided with oxygen and a surveillance camera was inserted in the pipe to monitor her movement.

But police said the operation was challenging due to poor visibility. There were also fears of the infant falling under debris and mud.

The teams had placed a wooden plank once they reached the exact spot where the child was stuck. They pulled her out and placed her on it.

“It was a very challenging operation … it is winter and the sun sets early … it was dark. We inserted a camera and were monitoring her on screen. While digging, it could also hurt her as it was not visible how she was reacting,” Mr Sharma said.

“Luckily, she was at a lower height and she had fallen like an apple straightway into the hands of the rescuers,” he said.

Children frequently fall into borewells in India, where there are an estimated 27 million wells.

As many as 40 children died in such accidents between 2009 and 2019, according to the National Disaster Response Force.

The police have not registered a case against the farm owner for negligence as they are waiting for the family to register a complaint. Farm owners are advised to seal the borewells to avoid such incidents.

Updated: December 17, 2021, 3:05 PM