Morocco was in shock Sunday after emergency crews found a five-year-old boy dead at the bottom of a well in a tragic end to a painstaking five-day rescue operation that gripped the nation and the world.
The ordeal of “little Rayan” since he fell down the well on Tuesday afternoon gained global attention and sparked an outpouring of sympathy online, with the Arabic hashtag #SaveRayan trending.
Throughout the operation to extricate him from the bottom of the 32-metre (100-foot) well shaft, authorities had cautioned that they did not know whether he was alive.
And reflecting the emotions provoked by the drama, it was Morocco’s royal cabinet that announced he had been found dead.
“Following the tragic accident which cost the life of the child Rayan Oram, His Majesty King Mohammed VI called the parents of the boy who died after falling down the well,” a statement from the royal court said.
By mid-afternoon Saturday, rescue crews, using bulldozers and front-end loaders, had excavated the surrounding red earth down to the level where the boy was trapped, and drill teams began creating a horizontal tunnel to reach him from the side.
But progress slowed to a snail’s pace as the drill teams worked by hand to avoid any vibrations that might bring the brittle soil down on the stricken child, local authorities said.
The family was yet to announce the date of the funeral, but according to Muslim tradition it must take place soon, in principle as early as Sunday.
The shaft, just 45 centimetres (18 inches) across, was too narrow for the boy to be reached directly, and widening it was deemed too risky — so earth-movers dug a wide slope into the hill to reach him from the side.
Read more via France24/AFP
Photo – The parents of 5-year-old Rayan are seen after rescue workers carried his body and place it in an ambulance after it was recovered from a well in which he was stuck for several days, in the village of Ighran in Morocco’s Chefchaouen province, 05 February 2022. The body of the boy was pulled out Saturday night by rescuers after a lengthy operation after he fell in the well on 01 February. EPA-EFE/Jalal Morchidi