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Rescue Workers in Morocco Edge Closer to Boy Trapped in Well

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Rescuers have dug to within a few metres of reaching a young boy who has been trapped for five days down a well in northern Morocco.

Workers with mechanical diggers have been trying round the clock to rescue five-year-old Rayan after he fell into a 32 metre (105ft) deep well in the hills near Chefchaouen on Tuesday.

“We have 2 metres more to dig to reach Rayan and we hope we will not encounter rocks,” lead rescuer Thamrani Abdelhadi told reporters at the site on Saturday afternoon.

He said it was difficult to determine the child’s condition because a camera that was dropped down the well shows him lying on his side, but he added: “We hope we will rescue him alive.”

It was also unclear how much longer the digging would take due to difficulties relating to rocks and the danger of landslides, he said.

Pictures on Moroccan media have shown Rayan huddled at the bottom of the disused well, which narrows as it descends from its 45cm (18in) opening, preventing rescuers from descending.

Rescue crews, who have dug almost all the way down using bulldozers and front-end loaders, expect the final 2 metres to be the most difficult due to the risk of landslides.

Having worked non-stop through the darkness under powerful floodlights, they are also digging a horizontal tunnel to reach the pocket where Rayan is, local authorities say.

There has been no information about the fate of the boy, but the more time that passes, the more fears arise over whether he will be recovered alive.

Overnight, crews manoeuvred a heavy pipe into position in the area.

“We’re almost there,” said one of the operation’s leaders, Abdesalam Makoudi, adding: “Tiredness is kicking in, but the whole rescue team is hanging on.”

The hilly region around Chefchaouen is bitterly cold in winter and although food has been lowered to Rayan, it was not clear whether he has eaten any. He has also been supplied with water and oxygen using a tube.

A helicopter was standing by to ferry Rayan to hospital.

“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 boy’s mother told Moroccan media that Rayan had been playing nearby when he disappeared on Tuesday afternoon.

“The whole family went out to look for him then we realised that he’d fallen down the well,” she said.

Scores of townspeople and others have gathered to help and watch the rescue efforts. Nationwide, Moroccans have expressed their hopes for the boy’s survival, using the hashtag #SaveRayan, which has brought global attention to the rescue efforts.

“Rescuers are literally in the process of moving a mountain to save little Rayan. I hope that their efforts will not be in vain and that those who prayed for him will see their prayers answered,” one internet user wrote.

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