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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Girl falls through hole in rickety bridge in Delhi into canal below, missing

Lohia Pul, which is many decades old, connects Mathura Road to Jaitpur in south Delhi. The 17-year-old girl was on a motorcycle with her father and brother when she fell off and slipped through a hole in the bridge

delhi Updated: Dec 23, 2017 12:27 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times
The hole on Lohia Pul through which 17-year-old Soni Chand fell on Thursday night.
The hole on Lohia Pul through which 17-year-old Soni Chand fell on Thursday night.(Shiv Sunny/HT Photo)

A 17-year-old girl is feared to have drowned in a canal in south Delhi’s Jaitpur on Thursday night, after she fell from the bike she was travelling on and slipped through a hole on Lohia Pul — a dilapidated iron bridge on Agra Canal.

The missing girl, Class 11 student Soni Chand, was tripling on a motorcycle with her 18-year-old brother and father on Thursday at the time of the accident, police said. The family was on its way to attend a birthday party.

According to the police, the accident took place after the motorcycle’s front wheel got stuck in a narrow opening on the road’s surface.

Despite divers and rescue teams searching the canal for close to 24 hours, the girl was yet to be traced at the time of filing this report.

The girl’s father, who had dived inside the canal immediately after the accident on Thursday, said he had lost all hopes of getting his daughter back alive again.

“I hope that I can at least get her body back now. We have scanned the canal till Palwal in Haryana but haven’t been able to locate her. Instead, they came across another woman’s body in the canal,” the girl’s father Kishan told HT.

Lohia Pul, which is decades old, connects Mathura Road to Jaitpur and other neighbourhoods of south Delhi. While it was not immediately clear which agency was responsible for the bridge’s maintenance, police as well as locals said commuting on the bridge had been stopped years ago because of its dangerous condition.

“But since the bridge cuts down travel distance by up to seven kilometres, bikers and pedestrians regularly still prefer to use it,” said Ravi Ranjan, a motorcyclist.

According to the police, Soni, her brother Abhishek and father Kishan were on their way to Jaitpur on Thursday to attend a birthday party.

“My older son Rahul’s daughter had turned two yesterday and we were on our way to attend her birthday. It was the first time I was visiting their home. People told me that the iron bridge was a shortcut but I did not know about the bridge’s poor condition,” said Kishan.

Kishan said that they had almost crossed the dilapidated portion of the bridge when around 8.30 pm, the front wheel of his motorcycle got caught in a narrow opening in the floor of the bridge.

“It was dark. My daughter was getting off the motorcycle to help me pull out the vehicle. But, she suddenly ended up slipping through a hole on the bridge. She fell in the canal below. I could only hear her shout ‘papa’,” recounted Kishan.

Kishan said he immediately jumped inside the water after her daughter. “I searched for her, but it was too dark to see anything. When the water got too cold for me, I was forced to come out. Since my phone was wet, I sought a passerby’s help to call the police,” he said.

Divers were brought in, but the search was hampered by darkness as well as the chilly water.

The search resumed on Friday morning, but the girl couldn’t be located.

Chinmoy Biswal, DCP (southeast), said no FIR had been registered and the search operation was ongoing. “There appears to be no foul play. The accident was caused due to the broken and rusted surface of the bridge,” Biswal said.

First Published: Dec 23, 2017 00:22 IST