Joy turned into grief in a split second at Karnataka’s Gadag district on Wednesday. Two farmers in Rona taluk, who had woken up on Wednesday morning to the sight of water in the borewell they were digging, died after the mud piled up next to the hole collapsed on them.
At around 9.30 am, Shankarappa and Basavaraj, the sons of the farm owner, rushed to the 5-acre plot.
“We had finally found water. This was happy news but there was one problem. The casing pipe which was installed had hit a spot in the ground making it impossible to push inside. We had to change the casing pipe. Since the men deployed to dig the borewell had gone away, Shankarappa and Basavaraj decided to install the pipe themselves,” said Sangana Gowda, Basavaraj’s relative.
The family members of both Shankarappa and Basavaraj had gathered at the farm. Unable to control their grief, a lot of them were weeping for the loss of their loved ones.
“This was supposed to be our happy day. We had found water. Our problems were supposed to be solved. How can god give us one thing and take away my husband? We were supposed to grow crops and repay our loan. Then we were going to save up money for my son and daughter’s education. We had talked about this yesterday. Now he is dead,” said Basavaraj’s wife, unable to control her tears.
Shankarappa and Basavaraj along with another helper named Mallappa, initially removed the faulty casing pipe. At around 10.30 am, they went inside a 15ft hole to install the new pipe, and the pile of sand lying next to the hole collapsed on the two men.
Mallappa, who witnessed the incident, immediately informed the police, who in turn sent in four JCBs and fire department officials to help dig the duo out.
“We received a call after 10.30 am that soil had collapsed on top of two farmers, who were in a 15ft-deep hole. We were hoping there would be air pockets in the soil but that was not the case. This was wet black soil and it solidifies very easily. The heat was high, which also contributed to that. Even with four JCBs, we could not find their bodies after an hour. Hence, the fire department officers, who were on the spot also started digging manually,” said Gadag SP, K Santosh Babu.
At around 2 pm, the body of Shankarappa was fished out. Just fifteen minutes later, Basavaraj’s leg became visible.
“We fished out the second body but due to the force with which the mud and stones had fallen, Basavaraj’s body was torn into three parts. We fished out his legs, then torso and head. We immediately covered his body and took both the bodies to the Gadag district hospital for post mortem,” SP Santosh Babu added.
According to Gadag Deputy Commissioner, Mohan Jain, the district administration has granted Rs 25,000 each for the last rites. The government has not yet announced an amount of compensation.