Rescuers race to save Vietnamese boy trapped in concrete pit for four days

Rescuers gather at the site where a 10-year-old boy is stuck in a 35-meter deep hole in Dong Thap Province, Vietnam, on Jan 2, 2023. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HANOI - Local authorities were still racing against time on Tuesday to rescue a 10-year-old boy trapped in a 35m-deep concrete pipe pit in Vietnam’s southern province of Dong Thap since Saturday afternoon.

Thai Ly Hao Nam and three other children had gone to the Roc Sen bridge construction site to collect scrap metal on Saturday, but he fell into the concrete pillar that had an opening of just 25cm in diameter.

Soldiers and engineering experts were mobilised to try free the boy, with rescuers hoping to raise the hollow pillar from its 35m-deep hole and cut the boy out – though after being trapped inside for four days, it is not clear whether he is still alive.

A wider 19m-long metal pipe has been lowered around the concrete tube in which Nam is trapped to allow them to remove mud from around the pillar and try to lift it out.

Rescue equipment like excavators, cranes and augers was deployed.

Rescuers were softening and removing mud and water to reduce pressure around the pillar before bringing it up – most likely later on Tuesday evening.

Cylinders of oxygen have been brought to the scene to help the boy breathe.

Water was also given to the boy but there was no sign that he was using the water since Sunday morning, according to Phu Loi Commune’s People’s Committee.

Around 100 soldiers and professional equipment have been sent to the site, which has been sealed off from the public while the rescue effort goes on.

“The boy has been trapped inside the small pillar for four days, with assumption of multiple injuries. Hope for him to be alive is limited,” said Mr Doan Tan Buu, deputy chairman of the Dong Thap provincial people’s committee.

The rescue efforts over the weekend have so far had no success.

“We had tried our best to rescue the boy using on-the-spot measures and equipment,” said Mr Buu.

“We later had to report and ask for help from national levels and people with expertise,” Mr Buu was quoted as saying by state-controlled Tuoi Tre newspaper.

A firefighting officer from Ho Chi Minh City, who has experience rescuing people from hundreds of metres underground, said the boy’s case is “very complicated” as he is stuck in a pillar that is too narrow for any rescuer to climb into.

“The only solution is to pull the pillar up,” he told VnExpress online newspaper.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Monday issued an official dispatch requesting involvement and cooperation among ministries to speed up the rescue.

He ordered Dong Thap’s people’s committee to work with the various agencies to mobilise all resources and equipment needed for the rescue work to ensure progress, speed and effectiveness of the rescue work.

The Roc Sen bridge project was launched six months ago with concrete piles being planted into the ground but not covered. AFP, VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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