A hotel owner is facing charges following the death of seven people who suffocated while cleaning a hotel septic tank without safety gear in western India.
The incident occurred on Friday night (local time) in Vadodara district when four ‘manual scavengers’ were called to clean the tank.
“One person first entered the tank, but when he did not come out and did not respond to calls, three other cleaners went inside to help him,” Vadodara fire officer Nikunj Azad told the ABC.
Three hotel employees entered the tank to check on the workers with all seven losing their lives.
The hotel owner has been charged with causing death due to negligence and the bodies have been sent for post-mortem examinations.
‘Manual scavengers’ clear underground pipes and septic tanks without any protective gear or masks. Hundreds of thousands of mostly low-caste Indians are employed as ‘manual scavengers’, according to the ABC.
Indian authorities have passed several laws with aims of cracking down on the practice but many ‘manual scavengers’ are still used through sub-contractors.
A campaign group seeking to end the practice has estimated nearly 1,800 sewer cleaners have died from suffocation over the last 10 years, according to the BBC.