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Rescue Prince mission grips India

Army personnel scramble to rescue a 5-year-old boy trapped in a 60-foot pit in Kurukshetra's Haldera. Wish the kid

india Updated: Jul 23, 2006 18:55 IST

Frantic efforts were under way on Sunday to pull out a 5-year-old boy, Prince, 45 hours after he fell into the 60-feet deep hole of a submersible tubewell in Haldera village.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said Army engineers were consulting experts around the world.

Mr Hooda accompanied by local MP Naveen Jindal visited the site and offered all assistance to rescue the boy. Mr Hooda said a nine member team of the Mumbai Fire Brigade had left in an AN-32 Indian Air Force (IAF) plane for the site to join the rescue operations.

The plane is expected to land at the IAF base in Ambala Cantt, from where the team will be reaching Haldera village. Disaster experts from ONGC have also reached the spot to assist in the rescue operation.

Over 45 hours have passed since Prince, son of Ram Chander, a daily wage labourer, fell into the hole of the tubewell while playing with his friends on Friday evening.

Sunday also happens to be his birthday.

"We will rescue the boy and our engineers are doing a fine job," Commandant of 65-Engineers Col SK Vidarthi said. He said his offficers and jawans have been at the scene of the "battle" ever the since the Army was summoned from Ambala Cantt for help on Saturday as efforts of the district administration proved fruitless.

The trapped boy is continuously being fed on milk, chocolates, biscuits and other food items and is in "fine health", Col Vidarthi said, indicating the pictures received on the Closed Circuit TV-cameras (CCT). The boy is also being supplied with water and glucose in the 16-inch wide hole in which he is trapped. Oxygen is being pumped into the hole from a cylinder with the help of a tube to help the boy breath easily.

"Food items are being lowered into the well with the help of a rope and we are encouraging the boy to eat these items" the Army officer said. The Army officials were a worried lot on Saturday night when the boy failed to respond, but encouraging words from his father and the village folk lifted his spirits and he again began to respond to the voices coming from the mouth of the tubewell hole.

"He is a brave boy and has been responding positively, which shows his courage in the face of the impossible," the Colonel said.

Col Vidarthi explained the details of the rescue operation where it was impossible to pull out the boy from above as the width of the well was just 16 inches. "So we located a abandoned well just ten feet away. From here we are boring a tunnel which will take us to the submersible well hole and the exact spot where the boy is trapped," the Colonel said, pointing out that it would be through this tunnel that the boy will be pulled out.

The Army has pressed into service a Collar Crane to remove the mud and debris of the tunnel which the engineers are digging. The rescue operation was hampered on Saturday night due to rain but resumed on Sunday morning.

A team of doctors led by Dr Praveen Garg from Shahbad is camping at the spot to provide oxygen and glucose to Prince. Deputy Commissioner TP Sharma and SP Sanjay Kumar are also at the site.

The local police has cordoned off the entire area and requested the onlookers to move to locations away from the well. The boy's father and other villagers are constantly praying and hoping for the "miracle to happen". The resident of Haldera and nearby villages have organised 'langar' (free community kitchens) for the rescue teams and others assisting in the operation.

Haryana Governor AK Kidwai has offered prayers for the safety of the trapped boy, whom he described as "a brave son of Haryana".