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Morocco: Five-year-old boy dies after rescue workers recover him from 30 metre well

Rayan fell down the well in northwestern Chefchaouen province on 1 February
Moroccan emergency services teams on 5 February recovered five-year-old Rayan from a well shaft he fell into days earlier, but he was declared dead soon afterwards (AFP/File photo)

A five-year-old boy that had been trapped in a well in Morocco for days has died, the royal palace said in a statement carried by state media shortly after workers recovered him. 

The rescue workers extracted Rayan through a three-metre tunnel dug into the side of the well in Chefchaouen province, in the northwest of the country, which he fell into on Tuesday afternoon. The five-day operation had gripped the North African country.

Images of Rayan, his head bloodied and body bruised, have flashed before the public due to a mobile phone that rescuers lowered to the boy on a rope in order to communicate with him and monitor live images of his surroundings.

Thousands of people had gathered around the site of the accident, with some applauding to encourage the rescuers, singing religious songs or praying and chanting in unison.

It was well after dark when rescue teams finally broke through to the well shaft where the boy was trapped, from the deep cut in the mountainside they had excavated in recent days.

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AFP correspondents saw the boy's parents walk down the slope into the cut, visibly crushed, before returning and boarding an ambulance without saying a word.

After a period of confusion, the crowd of onlookers began dispersing in sombre silence.

Save Rayan

The ordeal had sparked an outpouring of sympathy online, with the Arabic hashtag #SaveRayan going viral across North Africa.

Morocco: Plight of child stuck in 30-metre well grips nation
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Moroccan footballer and Paris Saint-Germain star Achraf Hakimi mentioned the rescue efforts on social media, alongside emojis of a broken heart and hands together in prayer.

Manchester City's Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez also joined the chorus of solidarity, sharing a picture of Rayan on Facebook alongside the hashtag "Stay Strong".

The boy's fate has attracted crowds of people to the site of the operation and parked cars line the roads around the village. 

Authorities had called on the public to "let the rescuers do their job and save this child". But one volunteer said he was there to help.

"We've been here for three days. Rayan is a child of our region. We won't leave until he's out of the well," he said.

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