Morocco was in shock on Sunday, the day after the discovery of the lifeless body of little Rayan, who accidentally fell into a well earlier this week, and was found dead despite five days of relentless efforts by rescuers, followed around the world.
A sign of the strong emotion caused by the tragedy, it was the royal cabinet which announced the death of the five-year-old child on Saturday evening.
“Following the tragic accident that claimed the life of the child Rayan Oram, His Majesty King Mohammed VI called the parents of the deceased, who died after falling into a well,” he said in a statement.
The race against the clock carried out for five days by the rescuers had been followed live by many Internet users, and on Saturday evening, tributes poured in on social networks from all over the world, from the Maghreb to Iraq, in Yemen, France or the United States, in all languages.
“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 child’s drawing. 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”.
– Centimeter by centimeter –
It took five days for rescuers to reach the child because they first had to drill a huge deep crevice and then a horizontal tunnel.
Their progress was greatly slowed down by the nature of the soil, some layers being rocky and others very sandy.
Rayan had accidentally fallen into the 32-meter dry well, narrow and difficult to access, dug near the family residence in the village of Ighrane, in the province of Chefchaouen, in the north of the kingdom.
Entering a horizontal breach on Saturday afternoon, the rescuers had continued their work centimeter by centimeter, digging by hand to avoid any landslide.
Saturday morning, a chief rescuer Abdelhadi Tamrani had indicated that images sent by an inspection camera showed the child “lying on the side, from behind” and that it was “impossible to affirm” if he was alive.
But the manager had assured to keep “very high hopes” that he was alive.
Rescuers had struggled to get oxygen and water through tubes and bottles down to Rayan, unsure if he could use them.
Thousands of sympathizers had rushed as a sign of solidarity and camped on the spot, in this mountainous area of the Rif, at nearly 700 meters above sea level.
– Digging with hands –
In front of the tunnel, loud applause greeted each appearance of the drillers, including the volunteer Ali Sahraoui who dug with his hands in the last meters, a fifty-year-old who became a “hero” on social networks.
Metal barriers had to be placed on Friday to contain the crowd. As the outcome approached, the curious regularly chanted “Allah Akbar” (God is the greatest) or sang religious songs.
Shortly before 10:00 p.m. (21:00 GMT) on Saturday, AFP journalists saw the father and mother, faces defeated, enter a tunnel dug by rescuers and communicating with the well, from which they later came out. the child.
They came out shortly afterwards and left in an ambulance, without saying a word, the mother riding up front, her eyes lost in space. After a moment of confusion, the crowd, gathered for days, then dispersed in a mournful silence, AFP noted.
The date of the funeral has not been announced by the family, but according to Muslim tradition it should take place quickly, in principle on Sunday.
This accident echoes 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.