No trace of three workers who fell into 60-ft trench in Chennai even after three days

Despite pumping out 20 ft of water, rescue workers have not been able to trace the three workers who fell into the trench at Velachery in Chennai on December 4, Monday.
Construction site in Velachery were three men fell into a trench
Construction site in Velachery were three men fell into a trench
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Three men remain trapped for over two days in a 60-foot trench in Chennai’s Velachery. The trench had been dug for the construction of a building on Five Furlong Road when a portion of the land caved in following heavy rains on Monday, December 4. Two workers – junior engineer R Jayaseelan and an unidentified migrant worker – were in a container that was being used as an office when the land caved into the trench. The third man is Naresh, an employee at the nearby Auto LPG gas station, a portion of which also collapsed.

Jeyan, a relative of Jayaseelan, told TNM that Greentech Structural Constructions, the company he worked for, forced him to come to work despite the government having announced a holiday due to the cyclone.

Relatives of the missing men allege that the rescue operations were delayed because of late response from the authorities. Eyewitnesses said that till Tuesday evening, just one water motor was deployed to pump out the water from the crater.

Sukumar, a relative of Naresh, alleged that the rescue operation had been slow until Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin intervened. On Tuesday evening, motor pumps were procured from public sector company NLC India to pump the water out from the construction site. 

Currently, a 60-member team from NLC India has been brought to Chennai for this operation. Authorities said six pumps have been deployed. According to one of the rescue team members, one container (which had three rooms) that was set up as an office for the construction site, one genset, and three compressors owned by a petrol bunk fell into the carter.

Jayaseelan has been working as an assistant engineer in Greentech for the past seven years. “He got married nine months ago and moved to Anna Nagar and decided to work on this site as it was close to his residence. On the day of the cyclone crossing Chennai, he received many calls from his company asking him to relieve the engineer who had worked on the night shift. His wife Manju received calls from him at 6.30 am on Monday, but there was no contact after that,” said Jeyan. 

According to his relatives, Jayaseelan’s co-workers who stayed at the site were nowhere to be seen since the accident took place. “We tried to reach his manager and his company, but their numbers are switched off,” Jayaseelan’s father Ramakrishnan said.

TNM tried to contact Greentech Structural Constructions, but the calls went unanswered.

Naresh’s mother Manjula also said he was asked to report to work at the time of the cyclone passing. Naresh hailed from Vijayanagar near Velachery. 

Manikandan, a member of the NLC rescue team, said that if the authorities from the construction company were available for assistance, the rescue could have been faster. “They know about the construction site and how deep they have dug for the building,” he said. According to him, from Tuesday 8 pm they have pumped out 20 feet of water.

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