Despite two rounds of controlled explosions, triggered on Saturday, to blast boulders and remove stones for reaching the hitherto missing lorry driver P. Rajendran, 35, the operation did not yield any expected result.
While two earthmover operators were rescued alive and three others lost their lives in the landslide that hit the stone quarry at Adaimithippaankulam near here last Saturday night, Mr. Rajendran of Oorudaiyaankudiyiruppu is yet to be located, as he has been trapped under several tonnes of rocks. Hence, controlled explosion was conducted on Friday afternoon to blast the boulders as the rescuers believed that he would have been trapped under these layers of rocks.
Stones were removed manually on Saturday morning but the NDRF and the Fire and Rescue Services personnel were unable to locate him. They conducted another controlled explosion at 1.10 p.m. on Saturday, which also did not yield any result, much to the disappointment of the rescuers.
“Since a foul odour was emanating from a boulder, we anticipated that Rajendran might have been crushed by the rock, which was blasted, but we could not find him there. We still get the unpleasant smell from an adjacent rock, which should also be blasted,” the rescuers said.
Subsequently, the rock was blasted in the evening. As the rescue operation was continued by removing the stones, The rescue NDRF and the Fire and Rescue Services personnel reached Rajendran’s toppled lorry on Saturday evening.
“As per the information we could collect from the two survivors of this accident, Rajendran would not leave the lorry when the stones are being loaded. Hence, we believe that he might have been trapped at this spot,” said one of the rescuers.
Since fuel from the lorry would have leaked, the rescuers had to carefully use welding units to cut its steel bars. However, they, who are carrying out the operation in the midst of dense foul odour, were unable to locate Rajendran.
Meanwhile, the family of earthmover operator S. Selvam, 23, of Ilaiyaarkulam, who died in the accident after being trapped in his vehicle for several hours, submitted a petition in the Collector’s Office on Saturday, seeking “minimum compensation” of ₹1 crore from the quarry operator and government jobs for the victim’s two sisters.
“The family with ailing parents has lost its breadwinner and hence the government should help the family liberally,” said relatives of Selvam.