DBN worker drowned in water pipe

2014-10-31 00:00

MILLIONS of litres of water destined for Durbanites will be disinfected after the discovery of the dismembered body of a maintenance worker who went missing on Tuesday.

Theft of vital water infrastructure has been blamed for the man’s death, after he fell into an uncovered tunnel hatch. His body was sucked into the Nagel Aqueduct, a subterranean pipeline that transports millions of cubic metres of water to the city.

The man is thought to have drowned, before his body became wedged in a narrow pipe nearly five kilometres from where he went missing. His body was discovered after a two-day search operation by Umgeni Water officials, police search and rescue officers and IPSS Medical Services.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said that theft and vandalism had cost a man his life.

“The metal cover of the tunnel had been stolen, and the worker had fallen inside. Theft of infrastructure is a considerable concern,” he said.

“The body was discovered about five  kilometres from where he had gone missing, and the water had to be shut off for the search operation.”

“We are taking every precaution and are disinfecting the entire line to ensure that the water supply to the city is not contaminated,” Harichunder added.

In another costly case of metal theft in June, a 200-metre bridge carrying one of the city’s main water lines was felled by thieves, who systematically stole the bridge’s support struts. The collapse of the bridge and the vital aqua artery at the hands of scrap-metal thieves posed a risk to Durban’s entire water infrastructure.

The collapse of the bridge left many of Durban’s northern suburbs without water for days, while officials scrambled to solve the problem.

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za

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