Rescuers work to free a child trapped in a well in Morocco: live updates
CAIRO — Rescuers working around the clock were racing against time on Friday to try to rescue a 5-year-old boy, his face distraught and bloody, after he was trapped in a 100ft deep pit in a sleepy Moroccan village for three days.
the operation to save the boy named Rayan, who fell to the bottom of the sink in northern Morocco, reached a critical stage on Friday, as Moroccans and others across North Africa gasped following the rescue on live streams.
Rayan has been stuck in the well near his home in the small village of Ighrane, about 200 km from the city of Chefchaouen, since Tuesday afternoon. Rescuers brought in bulldozers to dig a parallel shaft from which they could dig a tunnel to reach the child, but they feared part of the shaft or parallel shaft would collapse before they could get there. to arrive.
The state news agency Maghreb Arab Press said the drilling process was in its “final stages.” The operation was temporarily halted as night fell on Friday, but rescuers resumed once it was deemed safe to continue.
According to Le360, a local publication, two rescuers manually dig out the last few inches that separate them from Rayan. A helicopter was on the scene to transport Rayan to a hospital in one of the major cities as soon as he was released.
As the rescuers played to save the boy, Crowds of people watching the site said prayers and shouted encouragement to the rescue team. Some onlookers sat or slept under the trees, eager to see the crisis resolved. Rayan’s family made couscous, the traditional Moroccan dish, and served it to people in the crowd. Others distributed bread and dates.
Abdelhadi Temrani, one of the rescuers, said the effort was a very delicate process.
“This step is the most important and the most complicated”, he said. “You can’t sacrifice a team if there’s a risk of it collapsing,” he added, explaining that rescuers couldn’t send anyone to start digging until they had secured the well. parallel.
Using a rope, rescuers on Thursday lowered an oxygen tube and water towards the boy and also sent a camera to monitor him, according to Maghreb Arabe Presse.
Short videos of the boybarely moving, were shared where he still seemed to be breathing.
Local media reported that there were five bulldozers and dozens of rescuers, including a team of topographers. Reports indicated that even a local mountaineering and caving society got involved in the effort.
In an interview with Le360, Rayan’s father said he was repairing the well, which he owns, when his son fell into it. He was playing when he fell, according to local news reports.
“Everyone is doing their best to get him out alive and we can hug him by the end of the day,” he said.
The small village of Ighrane was overrun with journalists, many of whom were broadcasting live.
The scenes of bulldozers digging in the spotlight as thousands of Moroccans waited in suspense made the Arabic hashtag #SaveRayan a viral rallying cry on Twitter.
The hashtag was trending across Morocco and neighboring Algeria, and even in France, where there is a large Moroccan diaspora.
Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo.