Nine persons, including a man and his two sons as well as a father-daughter duo, were killed on Friday in two incidents in Chhattisgarh's Janjgir-Champa and Korba after suspected inhalation of poisonous gas inside wells, police officials said.

In Kikirda village under Birra police station limits in Janjgir-Champa, Ramchandra Jaiswal (60), Ramesh Patel (50), his two sons Rajendra (20) and Jitendra (25), and Tikeshwar Chandra (25) died, said Bilaspur Range Inspector General of Police Sanjeev Shukla.

"Jaiswal entered the 30-foot deep well on the premises of his house to retrieve a wooden strip. When Jaiswal fainted, his wife shouted for help, following which three others from the Patel family in the neighbourhood entered the well. When none of them came out, Chandra entered the well. He too fell unconscious after which police was alerted," the IG said.

Prima facie, it appears the men died after inhaling some poisonous gas inside the well, though the exact cause would be known once autopsy reports are received, a district administration official said.

Some officials said the old ring well that was 30 feet deep with 5-feet water level had not been used for around four months after Jaiswal dug a borewell in his house, which may have led to accumulation of toxic gases inside.

The owner had used wooden strips to cover the well, and following thunderstorms and rains in the area in the last few days, one of the strips had fallen in, they said.

In the second incident in neighbouring Korba, those killed were identified as Jahru Patel (60), his daughter Sapina (16), and two other members of the family, Shivcharan Patel (45) and Manbodh Patel (57), Korba Superintendent of Police Siddharth Tiwari said.

"As per preliminary information, Jahru fell into the well while working on his farm around 1 pm, and his daughter entered the water body to save him. When the duo did not come out, two others entered the well and fell unconscious. Prima facie, it appears there was some toxic gas inside the well that caused the victims to suffocate and drown. However, the exact cause of death will be known after investigation," Tiwari said.

In both the incidents, bodies were fished out by personnel of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and sent for the post mortem, as per police.

Chief Minister Vishnu Deo Sai expressed grief over the two incidents and instructed officials to provide compensation of Rs 9 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by staff)

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