Asia-Pacific

Indian toddler dies after four days stuck down well

Fatehveer Singh, 2, fell in a 33-meter deep well on June 6, in the Punjab district of Sangrur. He was pulled out dead on June 11, triggering protests. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images

A two-year-old Indian boy stuck in a narrow well for more than four days was pulled out dead on Tuesday, triggering protests over delays in reaching the toddler.

The case of Fatehveer Singh captured the nation's attention after he fell into the 33m deep well in the Punjab state district of Sangrur in India while playing on Thursday.

The disused well was just 23cm wide, complicating desperate efforts by dozens of rescue workers and volunteers as locals and television cameras looked on.

After 110 hours down the well, the little boy died before he could be rescued.

"The child is not alive anymore. He was pulled out at 5 in the morning by the NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) personnel," Vijay Inder Singla, a state lawmaker, told AFP.

No food or water for four days

The toddler, who had oxygen supplies but no food or water, was flown in an air ambulance to a hospital in the capital Chandigarh where he was declared dead.

Authorities had dug a hole parallel to the well and inserted a 36-inch wide pipe into it, in an attempt to reach the trapped toddler.

Villagers angry about the failed rescue mission gathered at the site on Tuesday and shouted slogans against the state government.

Protesters also blocked the main road briefly before police were deployed to prevent further trouble.

Rescue operation 'delayed'

The rescue operation was "delayed due to lack of required technical assistance," resident Kultar Singh was quoted as saying by local media. 

The borewell was dug by the child's family in 1984. They had used it to draw water to irrigate the fields but stopped using it after 1991.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered a crackdown on open wells across the state.

"Very sad to hear about the tragic death of young Fatehveer," he tweeted on Tuesday. 

"Have sought reports from all DCs (deputy commissioners) regarding any open bore well so that such terrible accidents can be prevented in the future."

The tragedy underscored the dangers of uncovered wells which are common across northern India.

A one-and-a-half-year-old child was rescued in March, in Haryana state, after being trapped for two days.

In 2006, a six-year-old child was recovered safely in the same state after being stuck in a well for 48 hours.

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