“The 2-year-old boy’s body is now in a decomposed state. We tried our best to rescue him but unfortunately, foul smell has started coming from the borewell in which the child had fallen. As of now, the digging process has been stopped,” J Radhakrishnan, Principal Secretary in the Transport Department and the Relief Commissioner told reporters.
Sujith Wilson was playing near the abandoned borewell on Friday evening, when he fell inside. Progress on the rescue was slow because of rocky terrain and complex procedures, including drilling a parallel tunnel to reach the boy and allowing for the passage of oxygen to enable him to breathe in the claustrophobic environment.
Authorities had earlier said Sujith was trapped at a depth of around 26 feet. However, attempts to pull him up by a rope, had led him to fall to a depth of 88 feet. Doubt also remained on the total depth of the borewell, which was pegged to be anywhere between 600 to at least 1,000 feet deep.
As rescue operations commenced, officials came under fire, with many alleging a “trial and error” approach by the state government. Those critical of the operation claimed the National Disaster Rescue Force or NDRF was summoned nine hours after rescue operations commenced.
Political leaders across the political spectrum at the national and state level had prayed for Sujith Wilson’s rescue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier said: “every effort” was being made to ensure the child was safe. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan, and actor Rajinikanth had all expressed concern over the incident.
Tamil Nadu ministers C Vijayabaskar and “Vellamandi” N Nagarajan were monitoring rescue efforts at the spot along with other senior state officials.