Indian toddler trapped in three-metre sewer after fall

Emergency workers scour drainage system to save two-and-a-half-year-old boy

Rescue workers seen here trying to reach a 10-year-old boy trapped in a well in India’s Chattisgarh state on June 14. On Wednesday, rescuers were trying to save a toddler trapped in a sewer for more than 24 hours in northern Punjab state. AFP
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Dozens of rescuers from India's army, police and federal emergency services were trying to save a toddler trapped in a sewer for more than 24 hours in Kapurthala city in northern Punjab state, an officer said.

The two-and-a-half-year-old boy fell through a gap as he crossed the covered three-metre drain near his home with his five-year-old sister early on Tuesday.

Rescuers used excavators to break concrete slabs and remove slush from the rubbish-filled sewer, which collects water waste from the bustling city.

Several locals and family members had already made unsuccessful attempts to enter the drain before the rescue operation began.

More than 30 soldiers, policemen and disaster relief force members were scouring the channel overnight after the family raised the alarm about the missing boy.

“We are using excavators to clean the drain and locate the toddler,” Navneet Singh Bains, Kapurthala police chief, told The National.

“We don’t have any information about the condition of the child as of now.”

Concerns over poisonous gas

Officials said the closed concrete drain had gaps between the top slabs. There were fears that poisonous gases in the chamber could harm the child.

The toddler and his family are from eastern Bihar state and live in a slum close to the drain.

It is not the first time a child has fallen into a sewer channel in India, a country with a poor record of maintaining drainage infrastructure, with open or broken drains a common sight in cities.

In June two children and their mother died in central Chhattisgarh state after they fell into an open drain.

In March, four people were killed after they fell into a sewer channel through an open maintenance hole.

Updated: August 10, 2022, 10:20 AM