Rescuers have finally reached a five-year-old boy who fell into a deep well in Morocco, as the entire world watches with anticipation.
Rescue teams have finally reached a five-year-old boy who has been trapped down a well for days.
Rayan Awram fell into a 32-metre shaft outside his home in Ighran village on Tuesday evening.
Moroccan media reports that resuscitation specialists have entered the tunnel alongside rescue crews.
There are fears the five-year-old needs potentially life-saving medical care.
A statement read out by an official at the site in the morning said he was showing signs of life.
Earlier the rescue teams were moving at a snail’s pace for fear of triggering a landslip, AFP correspondents reported.
The boy, named by local media as Rayan, plunged 32m down the well five days ago.
Rescuers say they’re now less than a metre away from the boy.
The complex and risky earth-moving operation has gripped residents of the North African kingdom and beyond, also sparking sympathy in neighbouring Algeria, a regional rival.
But progress slowed 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.
“Eighty centimetres (less than three feet) separate us from Rayan but the drillers are working painstakingly to avoid any mishap,” engineer Mounir al-Jazouli told a local broadcaster.
Rescuers have not given up hope of recovering the child alive. A medical team was with them and an air ambulance was on standby to take him to hospital if necessary.
A camera inserted into the well where Rayan is stuck had shown him, from behind, lying on his side, said Abdelhadi Tamrani, an official in charge of the operation.
Onlookers applauded to encourage the rescuers, sang religious songs or prayed, chanting in unison “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest).
Rescuers had tried to get oxygen and water down to the child but it was not clear whether he was able to use them, AFP correspondents reported.
Thousands of people have gathered and even camped in solidarity around the site in recent days, where AFP reporters have said the tension has been palpable.
“We hope that, with God’s will, he will get out,” he said.
The operation has made the landscape resemble a construction site.
Overnight they worked non-stop under powerful floodlights that gave a gloomy air to the scene.
“I keep up hope that my child will get out of the well alive,” Rayan’s father told public television 2M on Friday evening. “I thank everyone involved and those supporting us in Morocco and elsewhere.”
The drama has sparked an outpouring of sympathy online, with the trending Arabic hashtag #SaveRayan.
Another paid tribute to rescue workers working around the clock for days, saying, “they are real-life heroes”.
One volunteer said he was 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,” he said.
Julen Rosello’s body was recovered after a search and rescue operation that lasted 13 days.