NewsAll in vain

All in vain

Rescue teams in Morocco have been digging incessantly – and yet a five-year-old boy has not survived falling into an old well

Around five-fifteen in the afternoon, a cheer rose over Ighrane in northern Morocco, growing louder as the news spread: Rayan is alive! He is saved! Four hours later there is certainty of the opposite. Rayan is dead. The village falls silent.

The Morocco correspondent of the Spanish newspaper El País went to Ighrane, a good 100 kilometers south-east of Tetouan, and reported on the scene. Five-year-old Rayan fell into a dry well hole near his parents’ house early Tuesday afternoon. There are signs of life from him. For the next four days, rescue teams with heavy equipment try to rescue the boy.

Spain is following the rescue operation with particular palpitations. Three years ago, two-and-a-half-year-old Julen disappeared in a borehole here in the Mediterranean province of Málaga. At that time it took more than twelve days until the sad certainty of his death. In the case of Rayan, the chances of a happy ending were better. But all hope was in vain.

As late as Friday evening, the Moroccan newspaper Al Akhbar reported that Rayan was alive. He was stuck at a depth of 32 meters. On Tuesday afternoon, helpers lowered themselves into the well on a rope. But the deeper the shaft, the narrower it became; as far as Rayan there was no descent. At least you could let him have water and oxygen. Excavators dug a deep pit next to the well so that they could reach the five-year-old from the side.

The closer the rescuers got to their destination, the more cautious they became. Over the course of Saturday they dug the horizontal adit that would lead them to Rayan. “The last centimeters are the most difficult thing in this operation,” said the spokesman for the rescue team. Under no circumstances should the earth collapse over the boy. “It’s a tricky business,” said a police spokesman.

Hundreds of young men had come from near and far, even from Casablanca, 300 kilometers away, to watch the rescue work, reports El País. Double chains of security forces cordoned off the scene of the accident. They only opened when an ambulance came out of the pit with blue lights on late Saturday evening. In the car: the dead boy.

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