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Four children choke to death in locked car

Chennai, Aug. 13: Four children out playing near their homes in Tamil Nadu suffocated to death inside a car that got locked with its windows rolled up.

A passer-by saw the two four-year-old boys and two 10-year-old girls lifeless in the sedan this morning, more than 12 hours after their parents had searched the whole neighbourhood before filing a police complaint.

The Hyundai Accent the children had got into, possibly out of curiosity, had been parked near a temple ground at Kulathur town in Thoothukudi district for three years after it was seized by a public sector bank for a loan default, police said. It was one of six such cars left at the site by the bank.

“The parents did not search near the temple where the cars had been parked. The Accent had been lying abandoned for the past three years after being seized by the bank when its owner defaulted on the loan. Apparently, something was wrong with the locking system of the car and its doors got jammed after the kids went in,” said Kulathur crime branch inspector V. Shankar.

The parents of Isakki Ammal, Muthalagi, Aaji and Moses had feared the children had been kidnapped when they did not return home last evening and could not be found anywhere.

There was large gathering of people from nearby villages for a festival at the temple. Children often get lost or are spirited away by gangs during such congregations, the police said.

Thoothukudi police chief M. Durai said the children might have become unconscious out of panic when they realised that they could not open the doors and probably died later from suffocation.

“It was the unlikeliest of places to look for the children as rarely did anyone go near the six dust-covered vehicles. Somebody happened to peep into the car this morning and found the kids dead,” Durai said.

In the past, several instances have been reported of passengers getting trapped in cars after the central locking system got jammed.

The police have asked officials of the bank to explain why the cars had been left abandoned for so long in a public place, ordered their removal and said that they must be parked in a secure area.