Skip to main content

Morocco bids farewell to Rayan, the boy who died trapped in a well

Hundreds of Moroccans attend the funeral of the five-year-old boy whose ordeal has gripped the world
Moroccans bury five-year-old Rayan Oram in the village of Ighrane in Morocco's rural northern province of Chefchaouen, on 7 February 2022 (AFP)

Global tributes poured in following the death of Rayan Oram, the five-year-old boy who lost his life on Sunday after spending five days trapped in a well near Chefchaouen in the north of Morocco.

Social media ignited with condolences over Rayan's fate, uniting people over the tragic event that has gripped not only the North African country, but people across the world. 

The hashtag #SaveRayan had captivated the world and was trending on social media after the boy fell into the well last Tuesday, as the vast rescue operation was streaming live. Users left messages of solidarity and sympathy as rescue teams worked around the clock to save him. 

In an Instagram post on Sunday, Moroccan football player Abderrazak Hamdallah offered to buy Rayan's family a furnished house.

The striker then called upon other athletes, actors and celebrities to follow his example and assist Rayan’s family. 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Hundreds of mourners on Monday gathered for his funeral following noon prayers in the village of Ighrane in northern Morocco's impoverished Rif mountains.

"I am over 50-years-old and never seen as many people in a funeral. Rayan is the son of us all," one villager told Reuters. 

Rayan's father
Rayan Oram's father receiving condolences during his son's funeral (AFP/Fadel Senna)

Save Rayan

Khaled Aourram, Rayan's father, said he had been repairing the well, close to the family home, when his son fell in. The whole country took interest in the family's ordeal, with social media users launching an online campaign calling for help and solidarity. 

The well's shaft was too narrow for Rayan to be reached directly, and widening it was deemed too risky, so rescue workers painstakingly excavated the surrounding earth down to the level where the boy was trapped, before drill teams dug a horizontal tunnel to reach him from the side to avoid causing a landslide.

Civil protection services attached a mobile phone to a rope and lowered it down to communicate with Rayan and monitor him through live images throughout the rescue effort. It is believed that he sustained injuries to his head after images of his bloodied face had circulated online. 

Rayan's funeral
Men pray during Rayan's funeral in the village of Ighrane near Chefchaouen, Morocco, on 7 February 2022 (Reuters)

Over the course of five days, hundreds of people gathered around the site where Rayan was trapped, offering their help to save him, while others set up make-shift kitchens to provide food. 

On Saturday night, crowds had cheered as rescue workers cleared away the final few metres, but by the time they reached Rayan, it was too late.

Morocco's Royal Court on Saturday announced his passing, causing a wave of sadness and shock across the country and beyond.

Once recovered, the child’s body was taken to the military hospital in Morocco’s capital Rabat, accompanied by his parents. 

In addition to the thousands of tributes offered online, condolences to the parents also came from King Mohammed VI; Pope Francis; French President Emmanuel Macron; Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and other notables.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.