Attempts to rescue a five-year-old boy trapped in a Moroccan well stretched into a fourth day, with unstable soil threatening the painstaking work of trying to dig him out safely.
The boy is trapped in a hole too narrow for rescuers to reach safely
There is no update on his condition
Water and oxygen have been sent down to him by rope
Fears are growing that that it may be too late.
Online messages of support and concern for the boy, Rayan, poured in from around the world as the rescue efforts dragged through the night.
Rescuers used a rope to send oxygen and water down to the boy as well as a camera to monitor him.
By Saturday morning, the head of the rescue committee, Abdelhadi Temrani, said he feared for the child’s safety.
Rayan fell into a 32-metre well located outside his home in the village of Ighran in Morocco’s mountainous northern Chefchaouen province on Tuesday evening.
He is now trapped in a hole too narrow for rescuers to reach safely.
For three days, search crews used bulldozers to dig a parallel ditch. Then on Friday, they started excavating a horizontal tunnel to reach the trapped boy.
Morocco’s MAP news agency said that experts in topographical engineering were called upon for help.
Mr Temrani, speaking to local television, said on Saturday that rescuers had just two meters left to dig to reach the hole where the boy is trapped.
“The diggers encountered a hard rock on their way, and were therefore very careful to avoid any landslides or cracks,” he said.
The work has been especially difficult because of fears that the soil surrounding the well could collapse on the boy.
Medical staff, including specialists in resuscitation, are on site to attend to the boy once he is pulled out, with a helicopter on stand-by to transport him to the nearest hospital.
His distraught parents have been joined by hundreds of villagers and others who have gathered to watch the rescue operation.
The village of about 500 people is dotted with deep wells, many used for irrigating the cannabis crop that is the main source of income for many in the poor, remote and arid region of Morocco’s Rif Mountains.
Most of the wells have protective covers.
The exact circumstances of how the boy fell in the well are unclear.