LAHORE - A four-year-old boy died after falling into an open manhole near Pully stop in Green Town, police sources said Tuesday.

Rickshaw-driver Muhammad Ayyaz along with his son Zahid toured Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate area on Tuesday afternoon for some auto repair work. The resident of Kot Lakhpat was outside a workshop, while his son was playing in the street when all of a sudden he fell into the manhole.

The ill-fated father got worried after not finding his son, who went missing mysteriously. He desperately searched for the minor in the streets and nearby houses but after a considerable time he spotted Zahid’s body floating inside a manhole.

A good number of people gathered on the spot and contacted the Punjab emergency service Rescue-1122. The rescuers rushed to the spot and managed to pull out the victim after hectic efforts. “The boy was already expired. His body was shifted to the Children’s hospital,” a rescue worker said. Later, the police handed over the body to the family. The mother has lost her mental balance after the sudden death of her minor son, according the locals.

Following the tragic incident, the residents staged a strong protest demonstration against the city district government stating that the tragedy took place because of the sheer negligence on part of the local administration. They also chanted slogans against the provincial government for not paying heed to poor sanitary conditions in the suburb of Lahore. The protesters said that the authorities were informed about the open manholes on several occasions but they did not take action to improve the sanitary system.

The protesters also blocked the main road by setting the tyres on fire, messing the flow of traffic for two hours in the Green Town locality. The protesters demanded that all manholes should be covered with proper lids.

A Punjab government spokesman said that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken notice of the death and sought a report from the district administration. The CM has also directed that the officials responsible for the tragic incident should be identified and action must be taken against them under the law. The Chief Minister also expressed sympathies with the bereaved family, he added.

The deaths of children after falling in open manholes are not a rare incident in the provincial metropolis because of poor sanitation system particularly in the low-income neighbourhood and suburbs of Lahore.

More than two dozen children died in similar incidents here in the Punjab capital during the last five years. The government has failed to improve the sanitary system in many parts of the metropolis.

In February, a two-year-old boy died after falling into a manhole in Journalist Housing Society Harbanspura.

Another boy of the same age, Zain, died after falling into an open manhole while plying in Sharifpura Mohalla of Baghbanpura on February 16.

In September 2013, a seven-year-old boy was found dead in Ghalib Market area. Some passersby spotted body of the boy, clad in school uniform, in the drain at Zafar Ali Road and alerted the police. A 12-year-old boy drowned in the drain located near Bund Road at Double-Sarkan Stop in July 2010.