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Shaky soil threatens rescue of Moroccan boy trapped in well

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Rescuers are inching closer to reaching a 5-year-old boy trapped for three days in a well in Morocco, in an operation hampered by concerns about ground stability that has captivated the North African country

IGHRAN, Morocco — Rescuers inched closer Friday to reaching a 5-year-old boy trapped for three days in a well in Morocco, in an operation hampered by concerns about ground stability that has captivated the North African country.

The boy, identified as Rayan, fell into a 32-meter (105-feet) deep well located outside his home in the village of Ighran in Morocco’s northern Chefchaouen province on Tuesday evening.

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Search crews first used five bulldozers over days to dig vertically to a depth of more than 31 meters, according to Morocco’s official MAP news agency. Then on Friday, they started excavating a horizontal tunnel to reach the trapped boy, MAP said, adding that experts in topographical engineering were called upon for help.

Work was temporarily halted, but resumed later.

“Digging has stopped momentarily out of concern that the ground surrounding the well could collapse,” rescue committee member Abdelhadi Temrani told local television 2M.

Rescue workers used a rope to provide oxygen and water to the boy, but were unable to reach him via the hole where he is trapped due to its narrow diameter.

“I pray and beg God that he comes out of that well alive and safe,” his mother Wassima Kharchich told 2M. “Please God, ease my pain and his, in that hole of dust.”

Medical staff, including specialists in resuscitation, are on site to attend to the boy once he is pulled out, with a helicopter on standby to transport him to the nearest hospital.

The Moroccan government said Thursday that all efforts are being made to help save the boy.

Scores of townspeople and others gathered to help and watch the rescue efforts. Nationwide, Moroccans took to social media to offer their hopes for the boy’s survival, using the hashtag #SaveRayan which has brought global attention to the rescue efforts.

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El-Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco.

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