The plight of the five-year-old boy who fell into a well in the northern hill town of Bab Berred has gripped Morocco.
Rescue workers in Morocco have come closer to helping a young child trapped at the bottom of a well in a delicate operation.
The five-year-old boy, Rayan, fell into the well in the northern hill town of Bab Berred on Tuesday and his plight has gripped the North African country.
“I ask Moroccans to pray for the safe return of my son,” Rayan’s distraught mother said in a footage shown on local media. State news outlet SNRT News quoted a rescuer on Friday saying the boy was still alive.
Rescue machines had worked under floodlights throughout Thursday night, with excavations turning the landscape into a construction site of red earth in the forested countryside.
“We’re almost there. We’ve been working non-stop for three days and tiredness is kicking in, but the whole rescue team is hanging on, “said one of the operation’s leaders, Abdesalam Makoudi.
The well is 32m deep and narrows as it descends from its 45cm (18-inch) diameter at the top, which means the rescuers cannot go down themselves to retrieve the child.
The hilly region around Bab Berred 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.
Once they reach the same depth as well, the rescuers can start digging horizontally to save him, a witness told Reuters news agency, confirming reports by local media.
One of the rescue team members told local media on Friday: “We are preparing the most critical and most complicated rescue step… we need to dig horizontally three to five meters.”
“But to do so we have to stabilize the earth and remove the risk of landslide because we will deploy a rescue team and we cannot jeopardize their lives.”
A helicopter is standing by to ferry Rayan to hospital as soon as he is freed.
Outpouring of support
The incident has sparked an outpouring of sympathy online on social media, with the Arabic hashtag #SaveRayan going viral across North Africa.
Moroccan footballer Achraf Hakimi mentioned the rescue efforts on social media, alongside emojis of a broken heart and hands together in prayer.
Algerian footballer Riyad Mahrez also joined the chorus of solidarity, sharing a picture of Rayan on Facebook alongside the hashtag “Stay Strong”.
The boy’s fate has also attracted crowds of people to the site of the operation, and authorities have called on the public to “let the rescuers do their job and save this child”.