TIRUNELVELI: One driver died and two others rescued on Sunday after six of them were trapped 300 feet below the opening of a stone quarry site late on Saturday at Adaimithipankulam near Tharuvai village in Tirunelveli district, police said. The workers were trapped after boulders from above rolled into the quarry, immobilising their trucks, sources said.
According to police, the giant boulders crushed three lorries and three cranes and trapped Murugan, Vijay, Selvam, Murugan, Rajendran and Selvakumar, all drivers. After multiple efforts, a team of fire and rescue services personnel and rock climbers rescued Murugan and Vijay on Sunday morning and Selvam later in the day, hours after the accident. Selvam died at Tirunelveli Government Medical College Hospital where he had been admitted for treatment. Murugan and Vijay are currently being treated at the hospital. The condition of other three drivers is unknown.
According to sources, a fire and rescue services team from Palayamkottai reached the accident site around midnight after a distress call from villagers. “The continuous falling of boulders is hampering the rescue operation. A medical team is stationed at the site,” Collector V Vishnu said.
Stone quarry licence-holder detained, two owners on the run
A 30-member NDRF team from Arakkonam, which had been asked for aid earlier in the day, is expected to reach the site late on Sunday to speed up the rescue operation. The team is equipped with rescue and medical equipment, and communication and PPE kits.
“A 100-metre- long crane has been kept ready, and the visuals of the location are being sent to the NDRF team. Experts are being consulted to speed up rescue,” added Vishnu, who is coordinating the effort with Superintendent of Police P Saravanan.
The licence-holder of the quarry, Sankara Narayanan, has been detained and two owners of the quarry are on the run. The quarry has been functioning since 2018 and its lease is valid till 2023. The depth and mining plan of the quarry will be investigated, Vishnu said.
Earlier in the day, family and friends of the six men staged a protest and blocked village roads demanding swift action to rescue them. One of the family members said the administration had not speeded up rescue efforts even 10 hours after the mishap. Other workers wanted action to be initiated against the quarry owners for violation of safety measures.
Locals who joined the agitation blamed the administration for not acting on their pleas to close the quarry. Chief Minister MK Stalin has announced Rs 1 lakh aid each to the victims. Minister RS Rajakannappan and Speaker Appavu visited the accident site and called on the rescued at the hospital.
CM announces solatium
MK Stalin has announced Rs 1 lakh aid each for the victims. Minister RS Rajakannappan and Speaker Appavu also visited the site