Morocco rescuers get closer to boy trapped in well
Morocco, Feb 05: Rescue workers on Saturday inched closer to reaching a 5-year-old boy who has been trapped in an underground well in northern Morocco.
The child, called Rayan, fell down a narrow 32-meter (100-foot) deep well in the village of Ighran in the country's Chefchaouen province on Tuesday. State news outlet SNRT had quoted a rescuer as saying the boy was alive.
However, the low temperature in the region and passing time are raising concerns over him being retrieved alive.
"This second rescue step is about to finish. We are racing to get to Rayan and digging goes as planned," lead rescuer Abdelhadi Tamrani told state TV 2M on Saturday.
A helicopter is on standby to take Rayan to a hospital as soon as he is rescued.
Thousands took to social media to express their solidarity for the boy and his family, with the Arabic hashtag #SaveRayan trending for hours in Morocco and North Africa.
How have rescuers worked so far?
The well narrows as it descends from a 45 centimeter (18 inches) diameter at the top. Rescuers will not be able to go down themselves to retrieve the child.
A massive trench has been cut in the hill next to the well. By Saturday morning, rescuers were digging horizontally toward the well and installing PVC tubes to protect against landslides and get the boy out.
Moroccan media reported on Thursday that rescuers had managed to get water and oxygen delivered to the bottom of the well.
"I keep up hope that my child will get out of the well alive. I thank everyone involved and those supporting us in Morocco and elsewhere," Rayan's father told 2M on Friday evening.
How did Rayan get trapped?
Rayan's mother told the media that he had been playing nearby before disappearing on Tuesday evening. "The whole family went out to look for him then we realized that he'd fallen down the well," she said.
The incident has attracted crowds of supporters to the village, where they are currently camping. Police have been sent to the venue, and authorities have called upon the masses to let the rescuers do their job.
Some supporters say they are there to help. "We've been here for three days. Rayan is a child of our region. We won't leave until he's out of the well," one supporter told AFP news agency.