CHENNAI: An unattended open culvert claimed the life of a 46-year-old man on Chennai-Tiruvallur High Road (CTH road) near Ambattur Industrial Estate on Saturday night.
Sheikh Ali, the victim, was returning home by walk around 9.30 pm when he slipped into a drain and was pulled several feet into the culvert that was being built to convey rain water to the other side of the road.
Heavy rain and malfunctioning of pumps of fire service delayed rescue, claimed victim’s neighbours and the public. When Sheikh Ali was pulled out three hours later, he was dead. According to police, the victim, a resident of Mannurpet at Ambattur IE was as a daily labourer. Many culverts were constructed along Chennai-Tiruvallur High Road in the past year. Most of them were left open due to various issues, according to corporation officials.
“On Saturday night, Ali who was coming from work, got down at the bus stop and was walking. When he was just a few metres from his house, he slipped and fell into the culvert,” said inspector Vijayaragavan.
“There was a heavy downpour and Ali was pulled into the culvert. Motorists and passers-by ran to help him but it was too late. I was in the shop when I heard people shouting and I ran to the spot. There was no trace of the man. Since it was raining and the road inclined towards the drain there was heavy current. Some men tried to enter the drain but in vain,” said Rangarajan, a fruit vendor.
One of Sheikh’s neighbours had seen him slipping inside and alerted others. Sheikh’s family along with others gathered around the storm drain. Information was passed on to fire and rescue services and Ambattur Industrial Estate police. The rescue team from Ambattur rushed to the spot with two vehicles.
“Since the current was heavy, we tried to block water entering by using sacks, but in vain. We used two suction pumps to drain the water. The public disturbed working of the machine and one of them stopped working,” said a fire officer. But, the public denied the allegation. According to public and Sheikh’s neighbours, fire and rescue services arrived late and one of the suction pumps did not work.
“They used buckets from nearby houses to bail out water. Two firemen were draining water with buckets. Then the police ordered public to move away, said a neighbour. After three hours of struggle, Sheikh’s body was recovered and sent to Kilpauk Medical College Hospital for post mortem. Condemning the corporation for not taking efforts to close the storm water drain, hundreds of people protested along the road blocking traffic for two hours, said police. “One of them threw a stone at 47D MTC bus and the windshield was damaged,” said the police officer.