A five-year-old Moroccan boy who was trapped in a well for four days has died, despite strenuous efforts to save him.
The attempt to free the boy, named Rayan, had gripped the country, with hundreds gathered at the well and thousands more in line.
The boy dived 32 m (104 ft) through the narrow shaft opening. The rescue had been hampered by fear of a landslide.
No word was given at the time about his condition, and the apparent rescue was initially greeted with cheers from the crowd.
But it turned to grief minutes later when the statement announced Rayan’s death.
Twitter users then began paying tribute and expressing their sadness using the same hashtag.
“Following the tragic accident that claimed the life of the child Rayan Oram, His Majesty King Mohammed VI called the parents of the boy who died after falling into the well,” the statement from the royal palace said.
The king expressed his deepest condolences and heartfelt compassion, he added.
Rayan’s father was repairing the well at the time of Tuesday’s accident. He told local media the following day that his son had fallen into the well at “that moment when I took my eyes off him”, adding: “I haven’t slept a blink of an eye”.
Rescue operations in the small northern town of Tamorot, about 100 km (62 miles) from the city of Chefchaouen, began on Tuesday evening.
On Thursday, footage from a camera lowered into the well showed the boy was alive and conscious, but there had been no update on his condition since then.
Rescuers tried to get the boy oxygen, food and water, but it was unclear if he was able to use them.
The mixture of rocky and sandy soils meant that rescuers considered opening the narrow shaft of the water well too dangerous.
Instead, bulldozers were used to dig a huge trench next to the well.
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Rescuers then began digging horizontally to reach the boy. Some worked around the clock, using powerful floodlights at night.
The operation had to be briefly interrupted several times to allow teams to check that the hill was safe from collapse and that no earth was entering the shaft. Large pipes were also used to protect rescue teams by providing safe passage to the shaft.
Several hundred people gathered to witness the operation, singing religious songs, praying and chanting “Allahu Akbar”. Some even camped on the site.
A local resident, Hafid El-Azzouz, told the AFP news agency that he was there to show “his solidarity with this child, who is dear to Morocco and to the whole world”.
The incident recalls 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.