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A small boy trapped in a well in northern Moroccan for five days died before rescuers were able to reach him late on Saturday and retrieve his body, two government officials said.
Rescue workers had edged closer to reaching the 5-year-old child during the day, a case that has gripped the country.
Footage posted on social media showed the scene after his body was recovered, with hundreds of distraught rescue workers and onlookers gathered at the site chanting to god and shining the flashlights of their phones into the air.
The child, publicly identified only by his first name, Rayan, fell into a well in the hill town of Chefchaouen on Tuesday.
The well is 32 meters (100 feet) deep and narrows as it descends from a 45 centimeters (18 inches) diameter at the top, which means rescuers cannot go down themselves to retrieve the child.
Rescuers have worked with bulldozers to cut a massive trench into the hill next to the well, leaving a gaping hole in the reddish earth. By Saturday morning they were digging horizontally toward the well and installing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubes to protect against landslides and get the boy out.
“This second rescue step is about to finish … we are racing to get to Rayan and digging goes as planned,” lead rescuer Abdelhadi Tamrani told state TV 2M early on Saturday.
State news outlet SNRT News quoted a rescuer on Friday confirming the boy was still alive.
The hilly region around Chefchaouen is bitterly cold in winter and though food has been lowered to Rayan, it was not clear whether he ate any. He was also supplied with water and oxygen using a tube.
A local witness told Reuters that horizontal digging was delayed by rocks which complicated manual excavation.
A helicopter was on standby to ferry Rayan to the hospital as soon as he was rescued.