A contractor and a construction worker died of asphyxiation while cleaning a 50-ft-deep closed well at a restaurant in Thousand Lights here on Monday.
Construction labourer and Kannikapuram resident Robert (44) opened the iron lid of the well in the kitchen of Hotel New Neela Bhavan on Greams Road around 5 am, with private contractor and Perambur resident Sekar (45) and co-workers Ravi and Jegadeesh, police said.
Robert lowered himself into the well after tying a rope to his body, police said. Mid-way down, Robert complained of suffocation and swooned. Sensing trouble, Sekar lowered himself into the well and reportedly fainted by 5.30 am.
As soon as the hotel management informed the police, rescue personnel from the Egmore Fire Station rushed to the spot and pulled both Robert and Sekar out of the well. The duo was moved to the Government Royapettah Hospital, where doctors declared them ‘brought dead’.
A case was registered under Section 304(a) (Causing Death by Negligence) against hotel manager Saravanan (31), who was picked up by the Thousand Lights police for interrogation.
Robert was allegedly inebriated at the time of the incident and did not wait until poisonous gases escaped from the well. The hotel manager had reportedly asked the workers to begin their work after a cup of coffee, but Robert chose to get the work done sooner.
“This was the third time Sekar and his men came to clean the well. During the previous times, they would stay over in the hotel and leave the well lid open overnight for poisonous gases to escape. They would enter the well only the next morning. This time, they had left the lid open for only about 30 minutes before they went in,” a police officer said.
“The water from this well was being purified and used by the hotel management for various purposes,” a senior police officer said.