updated 10/13/2008 12:42:50 PM ET 2008-10-13T16:42:50

A 2-year-old boy trapped for nearly 90 hours down a 150-foot deep well in northern India died before army rescuers could reach him, a doctor said Monday.

The boy, Sonu Kumar, fell into the disused well last Thursday and got stuck at a depth of 70 feet, said Anil Kumar, the district magistrate.

The rescue operation was made difficult because soft soil caved in several times while a tunnel was being dug to reach the boy, Kumar told The Associated Press.

Rescuers had fed oxygen through a pipe to help keep the boy alive while the army dug the tunnel, he said. But the boy stopped responding to his parents' voices on Saturday and they feared he may have lost consciousness.

"Kumar has died," said Ashok Kumar Shukla, a doctor involved in the rescue operation, after the army pulled out the body on Monday.

Well contractors arrested
The well was in Leharkapurwa near Agra, 250 miles southwest of Lucknow, the state capital of Uttar Pradesh. It was dug by the Water Works Department last summer but abandoned because it dried up, officials said.

Government spokesman Diwakar Tripathi said the contractor who dug the well has been arrested and two engineers involved were suspended from work.

There have been several cases of children falling into abandoned wells in Indian villages while their parents were busy working in farms.

Two years ago, the army soldiers saved a boy who fell into a narrow 60-foot deep irrigation shaft and was trapped there for 50 hours.

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