A stench that emanated from the borewell into the tent confirmed the death of Sujith, a boy the state hoped would miraculously survive. A source close to The News Minute confirmed that the boy was dead a minimum of 24 hours before the stench took over. Health Minister Vijayabhaskar had earlier said that no movement was detected from the child.
The government had earlier never talked about the life of the child but continued to say that the rescue operation was indeed challenging. “We definitely suspected death because the body was covered in mud,” says a senior official involved in the rescue. “When we were digging a parallel hole, the body kept slipping further down. And every time he fell from 25 to 60 and then 88 feet, he would have got hit on both sides and been severely injured,” he added.
The officials were eventually aware that the child might not be brought out alive and began counselling the family to prepare hem for the worst. They suspended all other forms of operations being carried out on the ground and decided to announce the death of the child.
“The ministers and NDRF personnel were aware of the plan by the night,” says the Revenue Department official. “It didn’t make sense after the stench to have any more hope. So, a hook was used to remove him,” he adds.
According to the NDRF’s Standard Operating Procedure on borewell incident response, this involves using an aluminum wire with a hook to retrieve the child. But when the wire was brought out, only dismembered parts could be lifted out.
“When we removed the mud around the body, there were only dismembered parts,” says the official. “The body has been damaged by the constant falls,” he adds.
Sujith’s remains were finally retrieved after 81 hours at 2.30 am on Tuesday. The mortal remains were then taken to the Manapparai Government Hospital for a postmortem before being brought to Pudur where Sujith was lowered into the earth, for the final time.