"The foul smell emanating from the borewell is a sign of decomposition of Thimanna's body. It is a sign of death as he appears to have succumbed due to asphyxia (deficient supply of oxygen)," district medical officer B.D. Kittur told reporters at the spot even as rescue efforts continued for the fourth day Wednesday.
Thimanna Sunday fell into the 240-feet abandoned borewell in his father's sugarcane field at Sulikeri in Badami taluk, about 30 km from Bagalkot town and 550 km northwest of Bangalore.
According to the boy's friends, Thimanna went to the farm to show his cousin where the borewell was dug and how deep it was, but fell into it as it was not fenced and soil around it was slippery due to rain.
"We will not be able to confirm if Thimanna is alive or dead till we pull him out of the borewell though we fear the worst," district surgeon Ananthram Reddy clarified.
Rescue operations were hampered due to frequent rain and inclement weather during the day.
"A third attempt to extricate Thimanna using a sophisticated robotic arm by an expert (Manikantan) from Tamil Nadu failed, as the mud over his head turned wet and sticky due to water seeping into the borewell at a depth of 160 feet where he got stuck," district in-charge minister S.R. Patil told reporters earlier in the day.
Though a portion of mud was sucked out using vacuum cleaners Tuesday, the condition in the borewell deteriorated since then as groundwater made it sticky.
"Thimanna's only four fingers of a hand became visible again after some mud was cleared using another robot of a farmer (Manje Gowda) as the rest of his body remains buried in the rock soil," Patil said.
In a parallel operation, about eight excavators have been digging a trench round-the-clock near the abandoned borewell to reach the boy through a passage at a depth of 160 feet where he has remained stuck since Sunday afternoon.
"The excavators have dug up to 120 feet so far, as rains and inclement weather have slowed the operation. They have to dig another 40 feet to make a tunnel to reach Thimanna in the borewell, which we hope will be completed by Thursday or Friday," he said.
The rescue team consists of a dozen members from the National Disaster Rescue Force and 10 experts from the state-run Hutti Gold Mines in neighbouring Raichur district.
Meanwhile, the state government and two lawmakers of the district announced Rs.3 lakh compensation to Thimanna's father Hanumappa Hatti, as his sugarcane harvest got damaged due to digging of a massive trench adjacent to the defunct borewell.