Moroccan rescuers dig to find boy stuck in well

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Bab Berred (Morocco) (AFP) – Moroccans eagerly awaited Thursday as authorities said a dramatic operation to rescue a young boy trapped in a deep well for more than 40 hours was coming to an end.

The five-year-old child, named Rayan, fell into the narrow 32-meter (100ft) deep well on Tuesday evening in his home village near Bab Berred in the northern rural province of Chefchaouen, media said local.

“The rescue of the child is approaching,” government spokesman Mustapha Baitas said on Thursday. “Our hearts are with the family, and we pray that he returns with them as soon as possible.”

The shaft was too narrow for rescuers to reach the bottom, so heavy diggers were dispatched to dig a hole next to it.

On Thursday afternoon, the Le360 news site said there were “only nine meters” (30 feet) left to dig “for rescuers to reach the boy”.

MAP news agency said rescuers were able to send him oxygen and water through pipes.

Rayan’s father told Le360 he was fixing the well when the boy fell into it.

Chief rescuer Abdelhabi Temrani told Al Oula television that the diameter of the well was less than 45 centimeters.

Baitas said the nature of the ground meant it was too dangerous to try to widen the hole, which meant major excavations around it were the only solution.

The drama sparked an outpouring of sympathy online, with the Arabic hashtag #SaveRayan going viral across the North African region, including neighboring Algeria.

The boy’s plight also drew crowds of people to the operation site, putting pressure on rescuers operating under “difficult conditions”, Baitas said.

“We call on citizens to let the rescuers do their job and save this child,” he said.

Authorities also prepared a helicopter to take the child to hospital once extracted, national news channel 2M reported.

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