Latest updates on Rayan’s rescue operation

The mission to save the youngster is in its “decisive phase,”

Rescuers racing on Saturday to liberate a youngster who had been stranded in a 100-foot well in northern Morocco for four days said they still had high expectations of pulling him out alive, though they were unsure of his present health.

Rescuers have been working around the clock to dig a tunnel toward the youngster and claim to be only a few feet away from him. However, rescuers continued with extreme caution, fearful that either the well or a parallel shaft excavated to reach him may collapse at any moment.

“It’s difficult to tell his condition, but we have great, great, great hope,” one of the rescuers, Abdelhadi Temrani, said, adding that the crew was administering oxygen to the 5-year-old child, Rayan, around the clock. They’ve also been keeping an eye on him with a camera dropped into the well.

Mr. Temrani remarked, “An ambulance and a helicopter are waiting here to assist at the opportune time.” He claimed that the camera caught the child lying on his side, making it difficult to establish his true health.

As night fell, hundreds of people remained at the site, occasionally bursting in prayers and chanting, “Live, Rayan!” However, with contradicting accounts, there was growing skepticism that the boy would survive.

Dozens of police officers stood on both sides of a passageway to clear the way for the rescue and keep the throng at bay. It was all being live streamed, and many people both at home and abroad were transfixed to their TVs.

On Saturday, a state-run media channel broadcast a short video of the operation, which showed workmen drilling down the tunnel. Officials claimed the rescuers were 20 inches away from Rayan and had encountered “huge rocks” and areas where the soil had crumbled. They were still trying to get him out on Saturday.

The mission to save the youngster is in its “decisive phase,” according to rescuers, as Moroccans and others across North Africa watched the rescue on live feeds.

Rayan has been trapped in a well near his house in the little village of Ighrane, some 60 kilometers from Chefchaouen, since Tuesday afternoon. Rescuers used bulldozers to excavate a parallel shaft through which they could tunnel to reach the child, but they were concerned that either part of the well or the parallel shaft would collapse before they arrived.

Rescuers appear to have met hard rocky blocks that slowed their progress, forcing them to shift route as they dug, according to state-run media, which had been running a livestream of the operation.

The drilling procedure, according to the state-run news outlet Maghreb Arabe Presse, is in its “final phases.”

Two rescuers were painstakingly digging the remaining feet that separated them from Rayan, according to Le360, a local publication. A chopper was dispatched to the site to carry the youngster to a hospital in one of the main cities.

On Friday, as rescue professionals raced to save the youngster, throngs of onlookers offered prayers and screamed encouragements to the squad. Some onlookers sat or slept under trees, waiting for the problem to be resolved.

Rayan’s family prepared couscous, a classic Moroccan dish, and offered it to the guests. Others passed out bread and dates.

Mr. Temrani, the savior, described the operation as delicate. Rescuers have been lowering oxygen and water to the youngster via rope and have also put a camera down to observe him.

Short recordings of the boy, barely moving, were circulated on Friday, and it appeared that he was still breathing.

According to local media, there were five bulldozers and scores of rescues, including a team of topographers. According to reports, even a local climbing and caving group was involved in the attempt.

Rayan’s father told Le360 that he was in the process of repairing the well that he owns when his kid went in while playing nearby.

“Everyone is trying everything they can to get him out alive and into our arms before the end of the day,” his father stated.

The tiny community of Ighrane was inundated by reporters, many of whom were live-broadcasting.

The images of bulldozers digging beneath floodlights while thousands of Moroccans waited in anticipation sparked the Arabic hashtag #SaveRayan to become a viral rallying cry on Twitter. The hashtag was popular in Morocco, neighboring Algeria, and even France, where there is a big Moroccan diaspora.

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