Rescuers have said they are edging nearer to a five-year-old child who has been trapped in a well in Morocco for four days, despite unstable soil affecting their efforts.
The child, who has only been identified by his first name Rayan, fell into the well outside his home in the village of Ighran in Morocco’s northern Chefchaouen province, on Tuesday evening.
For three days, rescue crews used bulldozers to dig a parallel ditch, before they then started excavating a horizontal tunnel on Friday to reach the trapped boy.
However, this prompted fears unstable soil around the 32m (105ft)-deep well could collapse on the boy, and the rescue effort was temporarily paused on Friday.
Work resumed on Saturday, with hundreds of villagers joining Rayan’s distraught parents at the scene to watch the rescue operation unfold.
Lead rescuer Abdelhadi Tamrani told state TV 2M earlier this morning: “This second rescue step is about to finish… we are racing to get to Rayan and digging goes as planned.”
Workers are digging a horizontal tunnel towards the well and installing PVC tubes to protect against landslides in order to get the boy out.
Online messages of support and concern for Rayan have poured in from across the world as the rescue efforts continued through Friday night.
Rescuers have also used a rope to send oxygen and water down to the boy as well as a camera to monitor him.
Mr Temrani said on Saturday: “It is not possible to determine the child’s condition at all at this time. But we hope to God that the child is alive.”
Morocco’s MAP news agency said that experts in topographical engineering were called in to help, along with medical staff, including specialists in resuscitation, to attend to the boy once he is pulled out.
A helicopter on standby to transport him to the nearest hospital.