Morocco holds funeral for 5-year-old who died trapped in well

International Desk Published: 8 February 2022, 08:52 AM
Morocco holds funeral for 5-year-old who died trapped in well
Mourners attended the ceremony at the cemetery near Rayan's village close to the city of Chefchaouen

Hundreds of Moroccans have gathered to pay their last respects to "little Rayan", the five-year-old boy who died after being trapped in a well for four days, reports BBC.

Rayan Oram fell down the 32m (104ft) well on 1 February, prompting painstaking efforts to rescue him.

The rescue effort garnered media attention worldwide.

Hundreds of mourners attended his funeral on Monday in his home village where the tragedy unfolded.

There were so many people that they could not all fit in the hilltop cemetery and prayer site in the northern Rif mountains.

"I am over 50 years old and [have] never seen as many people in a funeral. Rayan is the son of us all," one villager told Reuters news agency.

When the boy was finally pulled from the well on Saturday evening, his apparent rescue was initially met with cheers from crowds by the well.

But this turned to heartbreak minutes later when it was announced that the rescue was too late, and that Rayan had died.

The rescue mission had been watched across the world - and soon after death was announced, tributes poured in.

On social media, where the hashtag #SaveRayan had been trending, people expressed their sympathy and sadness.

Morocco's King Mohammed VI called the parents of the boy and offered them his deepest condolences.

Pope Francis, while expressing his sadness, praised the "beautiful" way people had "worked together to save a child".

Players and fans at Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final in Cameroon held a moment's silence in tribute to Rayan.

Rayan's father, Khaled Aourram, had been preparing the well when the boy fell in.

The mixture of rocky and sandy soils at the site meant rescuers deemed opening the water well's narrow shaft to be too dangerous.

Instead, bulldozers were used to cut a huge trench next to the well.

Rescuers tried to get oxygen, food and water to the boy, but it was unclear whether he was able to use them.

Footage on Thursday from a camera lowered into the well showed that the boy was alive and conscious, but there were no updates on his condition after that.

"We thank His Majesty the King, the authorities and all those who have helped us," his father said on Saturday evening. "Praise God, have mercy on the dead."