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

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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 the southern province of Dong Thap since Saturday afternoon.

Thai Ly Hao Nam and three other children went to the Roc Sen bridge construction site to collect scrap metal on Saturday, but fell into the concrete pillar with an opening of just 25cm in diameter. Local authorities said the prognosis of the boy’s health is poor.

Rescue work started at noon the same day. Hundreds of people including firefighters and police officers along with rescue equipment like excavators, cranes, and augers were mobilized.

Cylinders of oxygen have been brought to the scene to help the boy breathe. Water was also given to the boy but since Sunday morning, there was no sign of him using the water, according to Phu Loi Commune’s People’s Committee.

The rescue team had decided on Monday to save the boy by pulling up the pillar, which has a closed end at the bottom, by first softening the ground around it through drilling and pumping water.

Rescuers have drilled more than 30m down the soil next to the pillar, and was expected to complete the remaining 5m on Monday night.

Early on Tuesday, rescuers were planning to use cranes and specialized equipment to pull up the pillar, before cutting it to bring the boy out.

Le Hoang Bao, director of Dong Thap’s Transport Department, said the team was determined to pull the pillar up by Tuesday morning.

A firefighting officer from Ho Chi Minh City, who has experience rescuing people from hundreds of meters 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 said.

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 mobilize all resources and equipment needed for the rescue work to ensure progress, speed and effectiveness of the rescue work.

He also ordered ministers of national defense, public security, transport, and construction to mobilize experts immediately and assign competent forces with experience to support the rescue work.

Chinh gave orders to the relevant authorities to inspect the safety measures for the Roc Sen project and have strict punishment if there are violations.

The prime minister asked the construction ministry, transport ministry, and chairman of provinces and cities’ People’s Committees to strengthen inspection to ensure safety in construction projects to avoid similar incidents.

The Roc Sen bridge project was launched six months ago with concrete piles being planted into the ground but not covered.



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