Morocco well rescue: Five-year-old boy Rayan dies after five days trapped underground

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI confirmed the death after a painstaking rescue operation

Lamiat Sabin
Sunday 06 February 2022 10:44 GMT
Morocco in shock after death of ‘little Rayan’

A five-year-old boy has died after he fell down a deep well in northern Morocco and was trapped there for nearly five days.

Rayan Oram plunged 32m (104ft) through the well’s narrow uncovered opening in the village Ighran, near the town of Bab Berred in the Chefchaouen region of the Rif mountains, on Tuesday.

On Saturday night, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI confirmed that the boy had passed away.

Thousands of people had gathered to witness the huge rescue operation unfold, that was carried out amid fears of a landslide because of the mix of rocky and sandy earth.

But sadly Rayan died before rescuers reached him, two government officials said.

Rescuers retrieved Rayan’s body after having removed much of the adjacent hillside and tunnelled a horizontal passage into the well.

An ambulance was seen going to a hospital after the body was retrieved, according to photos on social media and Moroccan state news.

King Mohammed VI had called Rayan’s parents Khaled Oram and Wassima Kharchich, an official royal statement tweeted by Moroccan TV channel 2M said.

He called them to “express his deepest condolences and sincere sympathy to all members of the family of the deceased in this painful affliction”, the statement says.

The statement adds: “He also expressed his appreciation for the tireless efforts made by the various authorities and public forces, and the collective activities, and for the strong solidarity and broad sympathy received by the family of the deceased, from various Moroccan groups and families, in this painful circumstance.

“In conclusion, His Majesty the King assured the family of the deceased his sympathy and unwavering care.”

One of the rescuers, Ali El Jajaoui – known locally as Ali Sahrawi, is an expert in well-digging who travelled to northern Morocco from Erfoud in the Sahara desert to volunteer to be in charge of the manual excavation.

It is reported that he devised the connection tunnel to reach Rayan and dug it manually, only stopping to drink water.

During the rescue operation, food and water were lowered down the well to Rayan.

Cameras were also lowered to check on him. Although he had been bleeding from his forehead, he appeared to have been conscious. Local media also reported that Rayan had taken food and water that was dropped down to him using a rope.

“People who love us are sparing no effort to save my child,” Rayan’s father said as he had stood watching rescue efforts on Friday night, Reuters reported.

Thousands of tributes for Rayan flooded social media after the news of his death broke.

Simon Martin, British ambassador to Morocco, said: “My condolences to the family of poor young Rayan.

“I am so sad to hear that that despite the magnificent efforts of the Moroccan emergency services it was not possible to save this courageous young boy.”

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