People look on as Moroccan emergency service teams attempt to rescue Rayan from a well. People look on as Moroccan emergency service teams attempt to rescue Rayan from a well. 

Pope highlights ‘beautiful story’ of efforts to save Moroccan boy

Tributes are being paid to a five-year-old Moroccan boy who has died after being trapped in a well for four days.

By Vatican News staff and correspondents

“We are used to seeing and reading in the media so many bad things, bad news, accidents, murders... so many things,” Pope Francis lamented at the Angelus on Sunday morning. “But today,” he said, “I would like to mention two beautiful things.”

One of those “beautiful” stories concerned the efforts of dozens of people to rescue a young Moroccan boy named Rayan who had fallen down a well. “It was all the people there, working to save a child!” the Pope said.

Sadly, rescue efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, as Rayan was declared dead shortly after he was pulled from the well. Nonetheless, the Pope praised the example of “the people there, waiting to save a child” and he thanked them for their witness.

Listen to Nathan Morley's report

“A tragic accident”

A statement from Morocco's royal palace described the child’s death as a ‘tragic accident’. The story of young Rayan has gripped the country since last Tuesday when he fell into a well in the town of Tamorot.

Remarkably, he survived after falling 32 meters underground.

That same evening, the boy’s family heard his cries for help and lowered a phone down to him on a rope.

However, because of the size of the shaft, the child could not be plucked out through the well itself. Instead, in a painstaking and dangerous operation, rescue workers first removed a hillside parallel to the shaft using heavy equipment.

Specialists then dug a horizontal tunnel at a depth of 32 meters.

Over the last few days, hundreds of people gathered to watch the rescue work, singing religious songs, praying, and chanting.

On Thursday, the boy was alive and conscious, but there had been no update on his condition since then. Finally, the rescue team pulled the five-year-old from the well on Saturday evening, but the boy was declared dead a short time later.

Television footage showed emergency service workers carrying the boy out of a rescue tunnel and into a waiting ambulance.

Such accidents are not uncommon. Last year, a ten-year-old boy died in Syria after falling into a well.

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06 February 2022, 15:57