By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI
FOR the family of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Lemchi, June 29, 2011, started like all previous days. They woke up hale and hearty, said their prayers as usual, ate their breakfast and left for their respective assignments. The children left for school.
Nobody knew that danger was lurking around the corner. In fact, they would have stoned anybody who prophesied a looming danger. Why wouldn’t they? The day was bright and fair. It was a happy day and indeed, a day of joy.
At break time, the school children went out to play. This was an exercise that almost turned out to be costly for both the school proprietor and the Lemchi family.
Midway into their recess, the harmless, hapless Anulika fell into a 40-feet deep pit! The joy of the children and their teachers vanished abruptly. Confusion set in. Some people even wept bitterly like wet babies. Her 12-hour journey in the pit of hell started. The blame game started.
Nobody expected to see Anulika alive again. No one was sure if dangerous reptiles were not in the pit and ready to pounce on any prey. Did she break her limbs in the fall? These were possibilities.
Truth was that Anulika was deep down the pit and languishing in pain. She must have obviously cried herself to sleep while her agony lasted.
The news of the mishap spread like wild fire. Before long, sympathizers gathered round the scene of the incident.
The Police, the Nigerian Red Cross personnel, the local vigilante and other curious citizens were all in attendance. Suggestions started making the rounds and they acted fast.
Narrating his ordeal, the little girl’s father, Mr. Lawrence Lemchi, said he rushed to the scene at about 10am, adding that he actually lost hope of ever seeing her daughter and the fifth child alive.
For him, it was devastating to think of his loved daughter lying in a narrow, 40-feet deep pit.
He also recalled that it was Anulika’s elder brother, Ebube, who informed him about the family’s predicament, adding: “I hurried to the scene only to behold my daughter in the deep pit”.
Anulika’s mother, Mrs. Ifeoma Lemchi, fumed that the deep pit is an uncompleted borehole, which the proprietors of the school left uncovered and unprotected from the school children.
In his own reaction, the leader of the Red Cross rescue team, Mr. Innocent Okehi, said his team arrived the scene at about 6pm, as soon as they got the information. He also recalled that the mission of trying to rescue the baby from the pit looked impossible.
“The narrowness of the pit and the inability of the little baby to respond to the tactics adopted by the rescue team made the task a bit difficult. We dug wider and continued working despite the rain.
I thank God that we eventually succeeded in rescuing the baby at about 10pm,” Okehi said.
As at the time of going to press, Anulika was still receiving serious medical attention in Federal Medical Centre, Owerri. It was not possible to get her medical record but Vanguard Metro recalls that she suffered head and body injuries.