Morocco Grieves As Boy Trapped In Well Dies

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

RABAT (Worthy News) – A nation was grieving Sunday, and many paid tributes to a five-year-old Moroccan boy who died after being trapped in a well for four days despite massive rescue efforts.

Morocco’s royal palace described the death of Rayan Oram as a “tragic accident.”

The king had expressed his deepest condolences and sincere compassion, it added. “His Majesty King Mohammed VI called the parents of the boy who died after falling down the well.”

The story of young Rayan gripped the nation and the world since last Tuesday when he fell into a well in the town of Tamorot, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Chefchaouen city.

Pope Francis and other leaders remembered the boy whose efforts to cling to life prompted prayers and a remarkable rescue operation.

“We are used to seeing and reading in the media so many bad things, bad news, accidents, murders… so many things,” Pope Francis told worshipers Sunday morning. “But today,” he added, “I would like to mention two beautiful things.”


One of those “beautiful” stories was the efforts of dozens of people to rescue a young Moroccan boy named Rayan who had fallen a well. “It was all the people there, working to save a child,” the pontiff added at his Angelus prayer message in Vatican City.

Yet, rescue attempts were ultimately unsuccessful, as Rayan was declared dead shortly after being pulled from the well.

Francis praised the example of “the people there, waiting to save a child,” and he thanked them for their witness.

Initially, the boy survived after falling 32 meters (104 feet) underground. That same evening, the boy’s family heard his cries for help and lowered a phone down to him on a rope.

Rayan’s father was repairing the well at the time of the accident on Tuesday. He told local media the following day that his son had fallen down the shaft at “that one moment I took my eyes off him,” adding: “I haven’t slept a wink.”

The incident led to a complicated rescue operation. Because of the size of the shaft, the child could not be plucked out through the well itself.


Instead, in a painstaking and dangerous effort, rescue workers first removed a hillside parallel to the shaft using heavy equipment.

Specialists led by Morocco’s Civil Protection Directorate then dug a horizontal tunnel at a depth of 32 meters (50 feet). However, the efforts were hampered by fears of a landslide, officials said.

Rescuers tried to get oxygen, food, and water to the boy, but it was unclear whether he could use them.

The mixture of rocky and sandy soils meant rescuers deemed opening the water well’s narrow shaft too dangerous.

Instead, bulldozers cut a huge trench next to the well.

As the rescue efforts continued, hundreds of people gathered to watch the rescue work, singing religious songs, praying, and chanting.


On Thursday, a camera lowered into the well showed that 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. The boy was declared dead a short time later.

Soon after the news broke, French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to write on social media: “Tonight, I want to tell the family of little Rayan and the Moroccan people that we share their pain.”

Well accidents are not uncommon in North Africa and the Middle East. Last year, a ten-year-old boy died in Syria after falling into a well. The incident is also reminiscent of a similar tragedy in Spain in 2019, in which a two-year-old boy died after falling into a borehole near the city of Malaga.

Yet, with continuous live television coverage, the tragedy in Morocco became a global story of heroism and hope in a world suffering hardships ranging from pandemics to wars.

On social media, people using the hashtag #SaveRayan, had been “trending” across the country and the world as they expressed their support. Their joy over his rescue turned into heartbreak minutes later when the statement came that Rayan had died.

However, Algerian midfielder Ismael Bennacer of soccer club AC Milan said on social networking site Twitter: “Rayan’s courage will stay in our memories and continue to inspire us.”

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