Moroccan rescuers save child trapped in well after 5 days

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Moroccan rescuers retrieved a boy from a well where he had been stuck for five days, state media reported late on Saturday, but it was not clear if he had survived the ordeal.

Rescue workers had edged closer to reach the 5-year-old boy, a case that has gripped the country.

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 is 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 has eaten any. He has also been 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 is on standby to ferry Rayan to the hospital as soon as he is rescued.

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