Morocco’s king says a 5-year-old boy trapped in a deep well has died

The Moroccan Royal Palace said on Sunday that a 5-year-old boy trapped in a deep well for four days has died.

Moroccan King Mohammed VI expressed his condolences to the boy’s parents in a statement released by the palace.

The boy, Rayan, was pulled out by rescuers on Sunday after a lengthy operation that drew global attention.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw the boy wrapped in a yellow blanket after he emerged from a tunnel dug specifically for the rescue.

His parents had been escorted to an ambulance before the boy got out.

His plight had attracted worldwide attention.

Online messages of support and concern for the boy poured in from around the world as rescue efforts dragged through the night.

Rescuers used a rope to send oxygen and water to the boy and a camera to monitor him. On Sunday morning, the head of the rescue committee, Abdelhadi Temrani, said: “It is currently not possible at all to determine the condition of the child. But we hope to God the child lives.”

Rayan fell into a 32-metre-deep well outside his home in the village of Ighran in Morocco’s mountainous northern province of Chefchaouen on Wednesday. He is now trapped in a hole too narrow for rescuers to reach safely.

For three days, search parties used bulldozers to excavate a parallel trench. Then, on Saturday, they began digging a horizontal tunnel to reach the trapped boy. Moroccan news agency MAP said topographical engineering experts had been asked for help.

Temrani told local television 2M on Sunday that rescuers had just two meters to dig to reach the hole where the boy is trapped.

“The excavators encountered hard rock on their way, so they took great care to avoid landslides or cracks,” he said. “It took about five hours to get rid of the stone because the digging was slow and carefully done to avoid cracking the hole from below, which could endanger the life of the child and rescuers.”

The work was particularly difficult due to fears that the ground around the well would collapse on top of the boy.

His distraught parents were joined by hundreds of villagers and others who had gathered to watch the rescue operation.

The village of about 500 residents is dotted with deep wells, many of which are used to irrigate the cannabis crop, which is the main source of income for many in the poor, remote and arid region of Morocco’s Rif Mountains. Most fountains have protective covers.

The exact circumstances of how the boy fell into the well are unclear.

Across the country, Moroccans had taken to social media to express their hopes for the boy’s survival, using the hashtag #SaveRayan, which has drawn global attention to the rescue effort.

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