Rayan Awram, five, has been trapped at the bottom of a well in northern Morocco for the past five days. Rescue teams have been working around the clock to free the young lad, and are now said to be just one-meter (3.2ft) away from him
Rescuers are just a meter away from the young boy who has been trapped at the bottom of a well in Morocco for three days.
Workers with mechanical diggers have been conducting the delicate and dangerous operation to rescue five-year-old Rayan Awram, but have been constantly delayed by rocks and imperilled by the threat of landslide.
Rayan’s life has been on the line after he fell into a 100ft (32m) deep well in the hills near Chefchaouen near the Rif Mountains on Tuesday.
It is currently unknown whether the youngster is still alive, or the extent of his injuries.
But rescuers have been able to catch a glimpse of the lad after lowering down a camera on a rope, which captured images of him with dried blood covering his face.
Though food has been sent down, along with tubes carrying oxygen and water, it is unclear whether he has been able to make use of them.
Anxious locals have gathered with the boy’s family around the rescue site, where they have been singing “god is greatest” and other religious songs.
It is “impossible” to tell whether the lad is still alive after spending so many days at the bottom of the deep well, medics have said.
“We hope we will not encounter rocks,” lead rescuer Abdelhadi Thamrani told reporters at the site on Saturday afternoon, while there were still several meters left to dig.
State television later reported that the rescuers were 90 cm (35 inches) from Rayan and that they had pinpointed his location from the access tunnel they were digging from a trench cut into the hillside.
Mr Thamrani said it was difficult to determine the child’s health condition because a camera that has been dropped down the well showed him lying on his side, but he added “we hope we will rescue him alive”.
It was also unclear how long 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 45 cm (18 inches) wide at the top, preventing rescuers from descending.
Workers in helmets and high-visibility vests carried stretchers, ropes, tackle and other equipment down into a trench they have dug parallel to the well.
AFP via Getty Images)
On Friday they began carefully excavating a horizontal tunnel towards the child, sometimes being ordered out to stabilize the earth.
The work grew more difficult as they encountered rocks between the trench and the well, a witness said.
The rescuers are placing concrete and steel pipes into the horizontal tunnel as they dig to allow them to pull Rayan to safety.
“People who love us are sparing no effort to save my child,” said the child’s father in a tired, barely audible voice, as he stood watching rescue efforts on Friday night, wearing a traditional hooded woolen robe against the cold.
“We pray this will be the day of his rescue,” he said.
Hundreds of villagers stood waiting nearby for news as the rescue operation continued.
A male relative of the boy told Reuters TV that the family had first realized he was missing when they heard muffled crying and lowered a phone with its light and camera on to locate him.
“He was crying ‘lift me up’,” the relative said.
The hilly region around Chefchaouen is bitterly cold in winter – with temperatures plummeting to as low as 3C.