‘The son of us all’: Morocco holds funeral for Rayan, 5, who died trapped in a well

Hundreds of mourners gathered to pay respects to a boy whose fate had gripped the nation

Thomas Kingsley
Tuesday 08 February 2022 00:00 GMT
Moroccans bury 5-year-old boy who died in well
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Hundreds of mourners have gathered in Morocco for the funeral of Rayan Awram, the five-year-old boy who died on Saturday several days after falling into a well.

The boy fell into the well in Ighran village, northern Morocco, on Tuesday and a days-long rescue operation was closely followed at home and abroad.

His body was pulled out on Saturday after rescuers excavated much of the adjacent hillside and then tunnelled toward the bottom of the well.

For his funeral, hundreds of mourners climbed the hilly, unpaved road leading to the cemetery, where they waited for hours to observe the Muslim burial rituals.

“I am over 50-years-old and never seen as many people in a funeral. Rayan is the son of us all,” one villager said.

Two large tents were erected in front of the grieving family’s home where mourners stopped to offer condolences. According to reports, mourners overflowed from the village cemetery and prayer site.

“Rayan’s death has renewed faith in humanity as people in different languages and from different countries express solidarity,” another villager said.

On Saturday, condolences to the parents also came from King Mohammed VI, Pope Francis, French President Emmanuel Macron, Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and other notable leaders.

“Amid so much bad news, there are good things. Today I would like to mention two: one, in Morocco, where an entire people worked to save a child, Rayan. thank you to these people for their witness,” Pope Francis wrote on Twitter.

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

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 said.

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

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

Egyptian and Senegalese football players also held a minute of silence in tribute to Rayan on Sunday before the kick-off of the final of the African Cup of Nations football tournament.

Rescuers had worked ceaselessly - at constant risk of triggering a landslide - in their ultimately fruitless effort to pull out the child alive.

“I am very sad. We spared no effort to reach the boy alive. We excavated around the clock in five days what could have taken weeks,” a volunteer digger, Ali Sahraoui, told reporters at the funeral.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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