Four Men Drown in Sewage Tank After Trying to Rescue Farmer Trapped Inside

Four men died on an Italian farm yesterday after falling into a sewage tank while attempting to rescue another employee who was trapped inside, officials say.

The incident occurred between 12 and 1 p.m. at a farm in Arena Po, a town in the province of Pavia, approximately 28 miles from Milan. The victims, all of Indian nationality, have been identified as the two owners of the farm and two employees, Giornale di Pavia reported.

The victims have been named as brothers Prem and Tarsem Singh, aged 48 and 45, Arminder Singh, 29, and Majinder Singh, 28. Investigators say the men were likely overcome by fumes emitted by the sewage, which is intended to create fertilizer for fields of crops.

The emergency services were called by relatives of the victims who went looking for the men around lunchtime and saw a body had surfaced in the tank, La Repubblica reported. News of the tragic incident was confirmed by ANSA, one of Italy's leading newswire services.

The specific timeline of the incident remains unclear, but preliminary findings suggest the men had been trying to save each other before their deaths.

Firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after but the rescue operation to recover the remains of the victims was complicated by the high levels of hydrogen sulfide. Soon after, authorities used a harness and special breathing masks to successfully extract the victims' bodies.

Local media reported that autopsies have now been scheduled to determine the exact cause of death. The dairy farm was first registered by Prem and Tarsem Singh back in May 2017.

Italian politicians and campaigners expressed shock at the tragic news.

Sharing a link to the story, Teresa Bellanova, the Italian minister of agriculture, wrote on Twitter: "Four workers lost their lives today in a farm near Pavia. My thoughts go first to the families. Occupational safety is an essential right, we must make every effort to guarantee it".

Francesco Paolo Capone, who is secretary-general of the labor union UGL, tweeted: "Yet another frightening fatal accident in the workplace that involved 4 workers in Lombardy. More than ever, we need strong action from the government so timely intervention is needed to put an end to these silent massacres."

Citing the Italian public broadcaster Rai, the BBC reported that there have been a total of 486 accidental deaths in the country's workplaces this year, which is the highest since 2016.

Last month in the U.S., an Oregon woman was rescued by firefighters after falling into a tank being used to treat sewage. Authorities found the victim, who declined to be identified, had been trapped inside the tank for up to three days before she was found by her daughter.