A five-year-old boy has died after he fell down deep well in northern Morocco and was trapped there for nearly five days.
Rayan Awram plunged 104ft (32 metres) through the well’s narrow uncovered opening – in the village Ighran, near the town of Bab Berred in the Chefchaouen region, on Tuesday.
On Saturday night, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI confirmed that the boy had passed away.
Thousands of people had been gathering 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 that emerged on social media and Moroccan state news.
An official royal statement tweeted by Moroccan TV channel 2M said that King Mohammed VI had called Rayan’s parents Khaled Awram and Wassima Kharchich.
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.
It 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 – was in charge of the manual excavation.
A member of the team worked for 22 hours without stopping, declaring: “My comfort will be to watch Rayan in the arms of his parents.”
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 stood watching rescue efforts on Friday night, Reuters reported.