India riveted by well rescue drama

AP , NEW DELHI

Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 5

Soldiers carried a 5-year-old boy back to ground level yesterday, bringing to an end the child's 50-hour ordeal stuck in an 18m-deep hole in northern India, television broadcasts showed.

The boy, identified only as Prince, emerged from the hole in the arms of his rescuer and wrapped in a white towel to loud cheering from a thousands-strong crowd that had assembled around the hole.

The soldier immediately handed Prince to his mother, TV footage showed.

Army rescuers dug a hole parallel to the one the boy fell into on Friday, then created a connecting passageway between the two.

The soldier reached Prince through the connecting pipe and, along with four other soldiers, took him back to ground level through the army-dug hole.

Army engineers were called in on Saturday after local police failed to extricate the boy from the hole in Aldeharhi village, Haryana state.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was among those moved by the boy's story.

"The prime minister prays for the speedy rescue and good health of the young boy who has been trapped," the Press Trust of India news agency had quoted an unidentified official in Singh's office as saying yesterday, the child's fifth birthday.

"We will take full medical care of the boy on his rescue," he said.

Fears that the sandy soil could cave in delayed the work, Zee News reported. He had been monitored by a camera placed by the army in the pit.