Help comes too late for Rayan (5): rescuers retrieve lifeless body from well

At about 9:35 pm Saturday evening, Moroccan rescuers retrieved Rayan from the well, but the boy unfortunately died. Moroccan media report this. The five-year-old boy had fallen into a well on Tuesday evening in his village of Bab Berred, near the city of Tamorot.

The Moroccan authorities confirm the death of the five-year-old boy. His body was recovered from a 32-meter-deep well on Saturday evening after a day-long rescue operation, after the boy fell there on Tuesday. Stewards formed a passageway from the entrance of the tunnel that was being dug to reach the boy to the ambulance on standby. However, it turned out that the boy was already dead when the emergency services reached him.

The Moroccan King Mohammed VI contacted the parents of the child shortly after the dramatic denouement and expressed his condolences. “Following the tragic accident that killed the child Rayan Oram, His Majesty King Mohammed VI called the parents of the deceased, who died after falling into a well,” the statement said in Arabic.

Difficult rescue operation

The last – but also most risky – phase of the rescue operation involved hours of manual digging, fearing soil erosion and rock cracks as a result of the excavation work. Last night rescuers hit a rock just before reaching the child. As a result, the operation was delayed for several hours. Moreover, the works had to be stopped several times because there was a danger of collapse. Authorities relied on three topographers and drilling specialists for the job.

There was also an additional difficulty: the rescuers had to contend with the lack of oxygen more than 100 feet below the ground, which created the risk of losing consciousness.

For Rayan, the emergency services lowered oxygen bottles so that the boy had enough air. His oxygen bottle was refilled every hour. Food and water were also brought down via a rope.


Rayan’s health had not been heard for a long time. The temperature, which drops to about 3 to 4 degrees at night, also worried rescuers.

Unfortunately for little Rayan (5) all help came too late
Unfortunately for little Rayan (5), all help came too late. ©AFP

Video footage taken earlier showed rescuers lowering a camera tens of meters deep until the child came into view. Those images showed that the boy was breathing and could even move. Over time, however, the rescue team could no longer rely on the camera footage as the boy had changed position. Since then, Rayan appeared to be lying on his side. On Saturday, operations leader Abdelhadi Tamrani said that it was “impossible to say with certainty that he is alive”.


The boy was trapped in the well at a depth of 32 meters for more than four days. Hundreds of people gathered at the excavated pit to follow the rescue operation. Some of them are said to have walked as many as 140 kilometers to show their support. Crowd barriers were installed to keep people away so that rescuers could do their job. The crowd cheered on rescuers with shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar’, ‘God is the greatest’.

“I haven’t slept a wink in the past few days”

In an interview, Rayan’s grandmother said that the boy normally eats with his daddy around 2 pm. When he didn’t show up on Tuesday, the father had a strange feeling. The father walked with Grandma to the well, but they did not hear him. Until they dropped a cell phone with a cord. Then they did hear him: ‘Get me out of here’. His grandmother fainted at the sound of Rayan’s voice. The father immediately notified the police. The well was never filled in to store rainwater. The father used this for his land. “I don’t know how it happened,” Rayan’s mother told local media.

On Thursday, Rayan’s father told the Al Arabiya channel that the boy was still alive. “I have not slept a wink in recent days,” he further told the French news agency AFP. One of the volunteers who attempted to lower himself into the well also confirmed that the boy is still alive on Thursday. The boy’s grandmother said that Rayan is very popular in the whole village.

Unfortunately for little Rayan (5) all help came too late
Unfortunately for little Rayan (5), all help came too late. ©AFP

The well Rayan fell into is used to spray cannabis. In the mountain villages, people are engaged in agriculture, says one of the inhabitants. “But here they make cannabis,” it sounds. “They use large basins and wells here to irrigate it. Those people live on that, so for me, they have to find the middle ground between that way of living and protecting their children, women, animals, and so on.”


The accident is reminiscent of a tragedy that occurred in Spain in 2019 when a 2-year-old boy fell into a well over 100 meters deep near the village of Totalán. The parallels between the two cases are striking. Spain was under the spell of desperate attempts to reach toddler Julen for two weeks. Rescuers eventually found his body at a depth of about 70 meters. He appeared to have died just minutes after his fall.

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