Mon, Feb 06, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Girl pried from gutter after two-hour struggle

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chiayi firemen yesterday freed a toddler whose leg was stuck in a drainage gutter for more than two hours.

"The 22-month old girl's left leg became stuck in a roughly 6cm-wide hole, which was the opening of the gutter onto the street, as her parents were about to take her home from their friends' house late on Saturday night," Chiayi City's Fire Department Director Kong Yung-hung (鞏永宏) said yesterday.

Chiayi firemen said the toddler's parents at first tried their best to pull their daughter's leg out of the hole, but their efforts were for naught. They then smeared salad oil on her leg to lubricate it, but found that creative tactic to be ineffective.

The anxious parents then called the fire department for help. Firemen decided to blast a hole in the concrete 40cm away from the gutter's opening so they could help the toddler move her leg at an angle and pull it out.

However, the firemen said that blasting into the reinforced concrete covering the drain was more difficult than they had anticipated. Electric drills and hydraulic pincers were used to try to tear a hole into the gutter, as they masked the girl's face so she wouldn't get scared.

The toddler's mother held and comforted her daughter as the rescue operation was underway, firemen added.

The blasting work was put on hold when a skinny fireman arrived on the scene and attempted a different strategy. He opened a cover of the gutter 1m away from the opening, and attempted to squeeze into that end of the drain to help rescue the girl. But he gave up after several attempts proved that the opening was too small, the firemen said, and the drills and pincers came out again.

Despite all the noise, the toddler then fell fast asleep in her mother's arms.

After more than one hour, the firemen were finally able to drill a hole down into the gutter. A fireman laid down and put his hand into the hole, took off the girl's shoe and helped her turn her leg at an angle so that she could pull it out.

Onlookers cheered when the girl was finally freed after the more than two-hour ordeal, the firemen said.

The firemen said that the toddler was not injured in the incident.

The toddler's grandmother, who arrived at the scene after the girl had gotten in the jam, blamed the toddler's negligent parents for the entire incident.

The director of the fire department, surnamed Kong, said the fire department is responsible for all emergencies.

He urged people to call 119 if they need help.

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