Prince rescued after 50 hours
23 Jul, 2006
KURUKSHETRA: The ordeal of five-year-old Prince, who had fallen into a deep open well more than 48 hours ago in Shahabad town near the Hindu pilgrim centre of Kurukshetra in Haryana, came to a happy end Sunday evening when he was rescued by a combined force of army and firemen from Mumbai. 

It was a happy homecoming to Prince, who fifth birthday fell Sunday. As a senior army officer lifted the boy, covered in a white sheet, out of a bucket that was lowered into the 60-foot well, scenes of joy spread across the place as onlookers hugged each other in an impromptu celebration. 

There was a dramatic transformation in the mood as the officer removed the sheet over the boy's body and unveiled a smiling Prince as the night fell. 

The area which was earlier enveloped in hushed anticipation with prayers among the onlookers began to wear a festive look. 

Ram Chander and Karamjit, parents of the boy, were overjoyed with the safe return of their son, who was immediately moved in an ambulance to a local hospital for a check-up. 

Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had led the nation in praying for the safety of Prince whose travails captured live by television channels. 

Residents had held a round-the-clock prayer vigil for the safe rescue of Prince. Prayers were also held for the child in Allahabad at a school for visually impaired students. 

The rescue operation, led by the 66 Engineers regiment of the Ambala Cantonment-based 2 Corps of Indian Army, started at 3 p.m. Saturday at Haldaheri village near Shahabad town of Kurukshetra district. 

Prince fell into the open well at about 6 pm on Friday accidentally while playing with friends. 
Thousands of people who thronged the village to see the rescue operation had to be pushed back by police as their presence was hampering the rescue efforts. 

Besides army personnel, nearly two-dozen villagers had dug a parallel tunnel inch by inch. Two cranes were in operation since 3 pm Saturday. 

The team of fire-fighting experts was flown in an Indian Air Force aircraft from Mumbai to help in the rescue operation. They reached the site Sunday afternoon. 

Kurukshetra is a Hindu pilgrim town, and considered to be the site of a battle in Hindu epic Mahabharata. 

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, some of his cabinet ministers, Kurukshetra MP Naveen Jindal and top officials of the army, police and district administration also camped at the spot since Sunday morning to supervise the rescue operation. 

Doctors at the spot monitoring the child with the help of a closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) lowered into the well Saturday evening had earlier said that he appeared fine despite the fall. He was lying on a two-three-feet wide pit, officials said. 

"He has consumed some milk and eaten a chocolate that was lowered into the pit. He sat up in the wee hours of the morning. This has given us a lot of hope that he will survive," said one of the doctors. 

The CCTV cameras captured the survival instinct of the boy as he fought off an insect that tried to come close to him as some food was lowered to the pit.


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