Morocco mourns on Sunday the death of little Rayan, stuck for five days at the bottom of a well in a poor region in the north of the kingdom, a human drama amplified by social networks which has aroused an avalanche of emotions throughout the world.
“The funeral will take place tomorrow (Monday),” Abderrahim Bouazza, the deputy of Chefchaouen province, told AFP.
No official information has filtered on a possible autopsy, but it is probably the cause of the delay in the funeral. According to Muslim tradition, funerals take place soon after death.
According to unconfirmed information, the body of the 5-year-old boy was taken to the military hospital in Rabat.
The Moroccan Sunday press, in unison, paid a moving tribute to the little boy.
“Tragic epilogue”, “Sadness and shock in Morocco”, “The fall of a child who reminded the whole world of the values of humanity”, headlined the media.
– “Example” –
Visibly moved, Pope Francis greeted “a whole (Moroccan) people who came together to save Rayan”, during the Angelus prayer celebrated in the Vatican. “They tried everything, unfortunately he did not survive. But what an example. Thank you to these people for this testimony”, reacted François.
A sign of the immense emotion caused by the tragedy, it was the royal cabinet which announced the death of the child on Saturday evening.
King Mohammed VI himself called Rayan’s parents to offer his condolences to the parents, whose faces were broken.
The race against the clock conducted for five days by the rescuers had been followed live by countless Internet users.
And as soon as the death was announced, tributes on social networks poured in from all over the world, from neighboring and rival Algeria to France or the United States, in all languages.
– “Little angel” –
“Little angel, you fought until the end, a hero”, greeted a surfer on Twitter. “He will have succeeded where leaders and the media have failed. He has brought people together around him,” added another Internet user.
“Rayan’s courage will remain in our memories and will continue to inspire us. The dedication of the Moroccan people and the rescuers as well,” wrote AC Milan’s Algerian international Ismaël Bennacer in a tweet accompanied by a drawing of a child s rising in the sky hanging from a heart-shaped balloon in the colors of Morocco.
“We had all kept hope that little Rayan would come out of it. All this is so tragic”, also reacted on Twitter the Moroccan-American novelist Laila Lalami, while French President Emmanuel Macron said on Facebook “to the family little Rayan and the Moroccan people that we share their pain”.
A dissonant voice though. A netizen lamented a “dystopian world in which all Arab nations are moved by the rescue of a child in Morocco while dozens die every day of starvation or under bombardments in Yemen, Syria”, before adding: ” NB: All lives matter”.
– “Heroes” –
Rayan had accidentally fallen on Tuesday into a 32-meter dry well, narrow and difficult to access, dug near the family home in the village of Ighrane, in the province of Chefchaouen (north).
Entering a horizontal breach on Saturday afternoon, the rescuers had continued their work centimeter by centimeter, digging by hand to avoid any landslide.
Until Friday, rescuers had struggled to get oxygen and water through tubes and bottles down to Rayan, with no certainty that he could use them.
As soon as the drama broke out, thousands of supporters came running in a sign of solidarity and camped on the spot, in this mountainous area of the Rif, at an altitude of nearly 700 meters.
As the outcome approached, in a feverish atmosphere before it became dismal, the crowd prayed and sang.
A volunteer driller, Ali Sahraoui, a 50-year-old who dug the earth with his hands during the rescue operation, became for a time the “hero” of social networks.
This accident echoed a tragedy that occurred in early 2019 in Andalusia (Spain), where two-year-old Julen died after falling into a well 25 centimeters in diameter and more than 100 meters deep.
His body was found after 13 days of research on an exceptional scale.