King empire

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

IGHRAN, Morocco (AP) — A 5-year-old boy who was trapped for four days in a deep well in Morocco has died, the royal palace announced Saturday. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI expressed his condolences to the boy’s parents in a statement released by the palace.

IGHRAN, Morocco (AP) — A 5-year-old boy who was trapped for four days in a deep well in Morocco has died, the royal palace announced Saturday.

Morocco’s 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 Saturday night after a lengthy operation that captured worldwide attention.

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

His parents, Khaled Oram and Wassima Khersheesh had been escorted to an ambulance before the boy emerged. His fate had attracted worldwide attention.

The palace statement said the king closely followed the local authorities’ frantic rescue efforts, “ordering the authorities to use all means necessary to get the boy out of the well and return him alive to his parents.” The King hailed the rescuers for their hard work and the community for supporting Rayan’s family.

Hundreds of villagers and other people had gathered to witness the rescue operation.

Online messages of support and concern for the boy poured in from around the world as rescue efforts dragged on for four days.

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

Rayan fell into a 32-metre (105ft) pit outside his home in the village of Ighran in Morocco’s northern mountainous province of Chefchaouen on Tuesday evening.

For three days, search teams used bulldozers to dig a parallel ditch. Then on Friday they started digging a horizontal tunnel to reach the trapped boy. Moroccan news agency MAP said surveying engineering experts had been called in for help.

Temrani, speaking to local 2M television, said on Saturday that rescuers only had two meters (yards) to dig to reach the hole where the boy had been trapped.

“The diggers encountered hard rock on their way, so they were very careful to avoid any landslides or cracks,” he said. “It took about five hours to get rid of the rock as the digging was slow and was done in a careful way to avoid creating cracks in the hole from below which could threaten the child’s life as well as that of the rescuers”.

The work was particularly difficult due to fears that the ground surrounding the well could cave in on the boy.

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

The exact circumstances of the boy’s fall into the well are unclear.

Across the country, Moroccans took to social media to offer their hopes for the boy’s survival, using the hashtag #SaveRayan which drew global attention to the rescue efforts.

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El-Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco.

Mosa’ab Elshamy and Tarik El-barakah, The Associated Press