Frantic search on through Indian trash dump for 12-year-old ‘rag picker’

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Rescuers searched frantically Monday for a 12-year-old girl believed buried for two days under a vast garbage heap which collapsed while she was scavenging in western India.

Neha Vasava and a six-year-old boy were on top of a 25-30 meter (80-100 feet) mountain of trash at Ahmedabad’s biggest rubbish dump when it collapsed on Saturday evening.

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An estimated four million Indians -- many of them children -- work in filthy, dangerous conditions, as as “rag pickers,” sifting through trash for metal and other materials to sell.

“The boy was also buried in the garbage, but since his head could be seen locals rescued him,” deputy chief fire officer MP Mistry told AFP.

“Our operation will continue till we find her.”

Mistry said rescue conditions were very difficult “as one cannot breath properly surrounded by tons of garbage”, and also because of packs of roaming feral dogs.

The dump, which receives around 3,500 tons of garbage a day from the city of 5.6 million people, is home to several hundred impoverished families who work as rag pickers.

According to UNICEF well over 41 million children aged under 12 are forced to work in South Asia.

Experts say lockdowns imposed to combat the coronavirus have exacerbated the child labor problem.

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