More than 200 rescuers in Vietnam have been working round the clock to free a 10-year-old boy who fell inside a narrow open shaft of a concrete pile on New Year's Eve as hopes of his survival started to diminish.
Ly Hao Nam, along with his friends, was searching for scrap metal at a bridge construction site in the southern province of Dong Thap when he fell into the pile on Saturday.
The government pressed soldiers, engineering experts and specialised equipment on Tuesday to pull the 35-metre-long concrete pillar from the ground before cutting it to bring the boy out.
Le Hoang Bao, director of Dong Thap’s transport department, said the team was determined to pull the pillar up by Tuesday. Cranes will be used to pull the pile out of the ground, he said.
“The boy has been trapped inside the small pillar for four days, with an assumption of multiple injuries. Hope for him to be alive is limited,” Doan Tan Buu, deputy chairman of the Dong Thap provincial people’s committee, was quoted by Tuoi Tre News as saying.
“We had tried our best to rescue the boy using on-the-spot measures and equipment,” Mr Buu said. “We later had to report and asked for help from national levels and people with expertise.”
A firefighting officer from Ho Chi Minh City said the boy's case is very “very complicated” as he is stuck in a pillar that is too narrow for any rescuer to climb into. The pile is only 10 inches wide.
“The only solution is to pull the pillar up,” he told VnExpress newspaper.
A wider 19m-long metal pipe has been lowered around the concrete pillar to allow the rescuers to remove mud from around the pile in which the minor fell. Rescuers have pumped oxygen into the support pillar and have softened the soil.
Water was given to the boy but since Sunday there has been no sign of using the water.
Senior lieutenant colonel Tran Minh Cong from the Combat Engineer Brigade 25 said rescuers on Monday night used specialised equipment to conduct the rescue plan despite extremely unfavourable conditions. “Despite tremendous efforts, [the rescue has yet to finish] as the incident is rare," he said.
Earlier on Monday, Vietnamese prime minister Pham Minh Chinh ordered the country's ministers for defence, public security, transport, and construction to assist the effort to rescue the trapped boy.