A 5-year-old boy in Morocco, who was trapped 32 meters underground in a well for four days, has been tragically found dead after a lengthy, strenuous rescue attempt. The recovery mission took way longer than expected as rescuers began manually digging the ground during the last stretch. Fearing the possibility of landslides, they resorted to this technique as they didn’t want to put the boy, identified as Rayan’s life at risk.
Nail-biting television footage showed the workers inserting pipes to shelter the boy from the rocks that collapsed. Once the passage leading to Rayan was cleared, paramedics rushed inside the tunnel to aid him. Meanwhile, his parents stood outside anxiously, and a crowd of onlookers, who were kept at bay by security personnel, waited patiently as prayers blared from a loudspeaker.
As Rayan’s body was brought out on a stretcher, security guards formed a cordon around an ambulance. His mother appeared to be crying at that moment. “I prayed to God and begged him to get him out of the well alive and safe. Please God, ease my pain. I hope the authorities and rescuers manage to save my son,” said his mother, Wassima Kharchich, earlier on Saturday.
JUST IN: A 5-year-old boy who had been trapped 32 meters underground in a well in Morocco for four days was found dead following a lengthy rescue attempt that had captivated the Arab world. https://t.co/AHCCoSkcQg
— ABC News (@ABC) February 5, 2022
According to ABC News, Rayan fell through a narrow opening of the well on Tuesday while playing in the village of Ighran in Morocco’s Chefchaouen province. In no time, a “Save Rayan” hashtag began trending in many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. While thousands of users prayed for Rayan’s safety on social media, some drew similarities between him and Prophet Yunis (commonly referred to as Johan in Bible) who was swallowed by a whale for three days before finally spitting him out.
“Please God, protect him just like you protected Yunis in the belly of the whale,” read a caption of a widely shared drawing featuring a boy playing with toys while being trapped in a deep well. Many Moroccan media live-streamed the rescue operation and one of them even lowered their CCTV camera to reveal that Rayan was still alive on Thursday even though he was suffering from a head injury.
Hoping to keep him alive, oxygen, food, and water were lowered into the well as well but unfortunately, the child did not make it. By Saturday morning, the head of the rescue committee, Abdelhadi Temrani, shared, “It is not possible to determine the child’s condition at all at this time. But we hope to God that the child is alive.”
“The diggers encountered a hard rock on their way, and were therefore very careful to avoid any landslides or cracks,” he continued according to WGN-TV. “It took about five hours to get rid of the rock because the digging was slow and was done in a careful way to avoid creating cracks in the hole from below, which could threaten the life of the child as well as the rescue workers.” Morocco’s King Mohamed VI subsequently offered his condolences to the child’s devastated parents following the heartbreaking end of the meticulous relief operation.
Cover image source: YouTube Screenshot | BBC News