VELLORE: A day after a 14-year-old girl fell into an open 2-km-long drain near Christian Medical College (CMC) Hospital in the city, search operations continued on Tuesday.
After efforts taken by the personnel of the Fire and Rescue Services and Vellore Corporation did not fetch results, the district administration sought the help of the National Disaster Response Force, Arakkonam.
The girl Priyanka of Makatpur in Giridih district of Jharkhand was walking along Peri Subramanya Swami Koil Street near Christian Medical College (CMC) Hospital along with her cousin Amit Sorath, who is a lecturer in a government college in Jharkand, and his wife.
Priyanka had come to the city with her father and government school teacher Indrajeet Mukherjee and her mother Sushmitha for her younger sister Neha’s treatment on Saturday.
Sorath, her cousin, had also come for treatment. The two families met at the lodge.On Monday, Priyanka’s family had left her with Amith Sorath and had gone to the hospital.
At about 5.30 pm, Sorath and his wife took Priyanka to a nearby bakery for snacks as she was feeling hungry since she had not eaten during the day. “As she didn’t want anything, we went back to the lodge and stayed in the room,” Sorath said.
When they were returning from the bakery, about 6.30 pm, there was a heavy downpour and they waited for the downpour to stop. An hour later, as they were walking back to the lodge through the waterlogged street. There was knee-deep water. Suddenly, Priyanka fell into the roadside drain and was sucked into by a whirlpool.
The cousin said, “I tried to catch her, but was able to hold on to her two fingers. But she slipped. I too fell into the drain, but a shopkeeper came to my rescue.”.
Usually, roadside drains are closed with concrete slabs. But this drain on Peri Subramanya Swami Koil Street was left uncovered. He recollected that this drain did not have a slab when he had come for treatment last September.
“The Vellore Corporation had opened the drain four days ago to clear the blockage in it and left it open after the work. This has caused such an incident,” said a police officer.
The locals said two children had fallen into an open drain in the locality in a similar manner nearly 10 years ago.
The girl’s parents remained in the lodge and refused to meet anyone. “They were shattered following the incident,” said Sorath.
In the search operations, Fire Service personnel walked into the 5x5 foot drainage canal from the spot where she had fallen to an outlet between the new bus-stand and the District Collectorate.
“Our personnel walked through the channel and checked thoroughly, but we were not able to find the girl,” said an officer of the Vellore Fire Station, S Manivel. The search team had also scoured the drain in an inflatable boat from this outlet to the discharge point near Palar river.
The search team also dug up three locations using earthmovers along the channel. They razed down two buildings including a staff canteen in the CMC Hospital that was built over the channel. “Several buildings have been constructed over the drainage network,” said a police official.
Collector R Nanthagopal, SP Vijayakumar, Mayor P Karthiyayini and Commissioner of the Corporation Janaki Raveendran also visited the sites where the rescue operations were on.