CHENNAI: A 49-year-old casual labourer died of asphyxiation while cleaning an old well at Korattur here on Tuesday. His co-worker swooned after he too entered the well and was admitted to a hospital.
Police said Shankar (49) and Kumar (37), both residents of 41st street, Tamil Nadu Housing Board Colony, Erikarai, Korattur, were hired by one Thanikachalam of Ellaiyamman Koil Street to clean an old and abandoned well at his residence.
Thanikachalam had decided to remove silt so as to draw water from the well While Kumar was standing on the surface, Shankar lowered himself into the well around 7 am. Kumar, who kept talking to Shankar, did not elicit any response from the latter after a few minutes. A panicked Kumar went after Shankar into the well while Thanikachalam waited on the surface. A few minutes later, Kumar stopped responding to Thanikachalam, who in turn sought the help of the neighbours and alerted the police. Fire and rescue services personnel were also informed.
Though the rescue vehicle reached the area within no time, the vehicle could not get near the house due to the haphazard parking in the narrow lanes.
After 30 minutes of struggle, the rescue personnel pulled the duo out of the well and took them to a nearby hospital. The doctors declared Shankar dead on arrival. Kumar, who swooned inside the well, was being treated at a private hospital and was under observation.
The well, which remained unused for over a decade, apparently had lack of oxygen. There was also chance of some poisonous gas accumulated along with silt in the bottom.
Meanwhile, Korattur Police registered a case against Thanikachalam and arrested him for causing death due to negligence.