The final words of a five-year-old boy have been revealed by family members, following the young boy’s death after being trapped in a Moroccan well for days.
A male relative told Reuters news agency that Rayan Awram called out begging to be saved while waiting to be rescued.
He said the family first realised Rayan was missing when they heard sounds of muffled crying, using the camera light on their phone to find him.
“He was crying ‘lift me up’,” the relative said.
Rayan fell into a 32-metre shaft outside his home in Ighran, a village in northern Morocco, on Tuesday evening.
On Sunday, footage emerged showing Rayan being carried out of a tunnel constructed by rescuers, before the boy was rushed to an ambulance where his parents waited.
Photos the moments when Rayan,5, was removed from the 32 meter deep well in northern Morocco before he was announced dead.
— Tun Fadzil 🇲🇾🇵🇸 (@FAZHAJAZ) February 5, 2022
It was later reported that the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, confirmed that Rayan was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.
The monarch expressed his condolences to the boy’s parents, Khaled Oram and Wassima Khersheesh.
Reports from Moroccan media said resuscitation specialists entered the tunnel alongside rescue crews, fearing Rayan may have needed life-saving medical care.
AFP correspondents reported that rescue teams moved at a snail’s pace for fear of triggering a landslide.
The risky earth-moving operation saw drill teams work by hand to avoid any vibrations that could bring soil down on the stricken child, according to local authorities.
“Eighty centimetres (less than three feet) separate us from Rayan but the drillers are working painstakingly to avoid any mishap,” engineer Mounir al-Jazouli told a local broadcaster.
Abdelhardi Tamrani, an official in charge of the rescue, said a camera inserted into the well where Rayan was stuck had shown him lying on his side.
Tributes to the five-year-old have flooded social media after the news of his passing on Sunday night. Image: @ShaykhAshiq (Twitter)
The efforts of the rescue teams gripped Moroccan residents, attracting onlookers who encouraged rescuers with applause, sang religious songs or prayed, chanting “Allahu akbar” (God is great) in unison. The operation even sparked sympathy in neighbouring Algeria, a regional rival.
Though rescuers had tried to get oxygen and water down to the five-year-old, AFP correspondents reported that it was unclear whether he was able to use them.
As night fell, they continued to work non-stop, using powerful floodlights that gave a gloomy air to the scene.
“I keep up hope that my child will get out of the well alive,” Rayan’s father told public television 2M on Friday evening.
“I thank everyone involved and those supporting us in Morocco and elsewhere.”
The rescue mission sparked an outpouring of sympathy online, with the Arabic hashtag #SaveRayan beginning to trend.
— Younes JEDDI (@YounesJeddi) February 6, 2022
One person paid tribute to the rescue team working non-stop for days on end, saying, “they are real-life heroes”.
A volunteer at the site simply 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.
This article first appeared on OverSixty.