A five-year-old Moroccan boy who was trapped in a well for four days has died, despite painstaking efforts to rescue him.
A royal statement announced his death soon after his removal from the well. The bid to free the boy, Rayan Oram, had gripped the country, with hundreds of people gathered at the well and thousands more following online.
The boy plunged 32m (104ft) through the well’s narrow opening. The rescue had been hampered by fears of a landslide. Rescuers finally brought the boy out of the well on Saturday evening.
No word had been given at the time about his condition, and the apparent rescue was initially met with cheers from the crowds.
On social media, people using the hashtag #SaveRayan, which had been trending across the country and around the world, expressed their jubilation.
But this turned to heartbreak minutes later when the statement came announcing that Rayan had died.
“Rayan’s courage will stay in our memories and continue to inspire us,” AC Milan’s Algerian midfielder Ismael Bennacer tweeted.
In a Facebook post, French President Emmanuel Macron wrote: “Tonight, I want to tell the family of little Rayan and the Moroccan people that we share their pain.”
The statement from Morocco’s royal palace described Rayan’s death as a “tragic accident”, adding: “His Majesty King Mohammed VI called the parents of the boy who died after falling down the well.” The king had expressed his deepest condolences and sincere compassion, it added.
The cause of Rayan Oram dead
Rayan’s father was repairing the well at the time of the accident on Tuesday. He told local media the following day that his son had fallen down the shaft at
“that one moment I took my eyes off him”, adding: “I haven’t slept a wink.”
The parents of five-year-old Rayan are seen after rescue workers carried his body to an ambulance in Morocco’s Chefchaouen province, 5 February 2022
Led by Morocco’s Civil Protection Directorate, rescue operations in the small northern town of Tamorot, around 100km (62 miles) from the city of Chefchaouen, began on Tuesday evening.
Very sad for death of #Rayan, my condolences to his family & all #Morocco. The news of death of Rayan broke hearts of millions around the world. Meanwhile world conscience MUST be shaken to death of thousands of children by starvation & bomb of #UAE & #SaudiArabia in #Yemen#ريان pic.twitter.com/EZhKpC01RB
— Mahmoud Refaat (@DrMahmoudRefaat) February 5, 2022
Footage on Thursday from a camera lowered into the well showed that the boy was alive and conscious, but there had been no update on his condition since then. Rescuers tried to get oxygen, food and water to the boy but it was unclear whether he was able to use them.
The mixture of rocky and sandy soils meant rescuers deemed opening the water well’s narrow shaft to be too dangerous. Instead, bulldozers were used to cut a huge trench next to the well.
Rescuers then started digging horizontally to reach the boy. Some worked round the clock, using powerful floodlights during the night.
The operation had to be paused briefly several times to allow crews to check that the hillside was safe from collapsing and that no soil was entering the well. Large pipes were also used to protect rescue teams by providing a secure passage to the shaft.
Rescuers dug a huge hole next to the well (front, centre)
Hundreds of people gathered to watch the operation, singing religious songs, praying and chanting “Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)”. Some even camped at the site.
One local resident, Hafid El-Azzouz, told AFP news agency that he was there to show “solidarity with this child, who is dear to Morocco and the whole world”.