Morocco: Five-year-old boy falls into well near northern city of Chefchaouen, efforts to rescue him underway

Morocco has been gripped by efforts to rescue a child who fell into a well near the northern city of Chefchaouen.

The child, who local media have identified as a five-year-old boy named Rayan, was reportedly playing near the well in the town of Tamrout, 100km from Chefchaouen.

Rayan is believed to have fallen about 32 metre through a narrow opening.

Rescue operations, led by Morocco’s Civil Protection Directorate, have been ongoing since Tuesday evening.

Despite suffering a significant fall, footage from a camera lowered into the well showed that the boy remains alive and conscious, though he appeared to be suffering from some minor head injuries.

Local media reported that provincial authorities are overseeing rescue attempts and that dozens of police, auxiliary forces, Royal Gendarmerie and civil protection officers are now involved in the operation.

Thousands of people have been watching footage of the rescue on social media, and a large group of onlookers have gathered at the scene.

Mohamed Yassin El Quahabi, president of the Chefchaouen Association of Caving and Mountain Activities, has been helping with the rescue and that the narrowness of the well has hampered rescue efforts.

He added that several attempts by local volunteers to gain access have already failed.

“The problem of this rescue is that the hole diameter is very, very small, about 25cm (9.8 inches),” Mr El Quahabi said. “At the depth of 28 metres it became smaller so we couldn’t reach him.”

Pictures from the scene show five bulldozers digging a large area parallel to the well’s outer shaft to try and work around the narrow structure.

But authorities are concerned that any interference with the well could accidentally hurt the five-year-old.

Rescue workers have lowered an oxygen mask, food and water into the well. A medical team is also on site, ready to treat the boy.