IGHRAN, Morocco (AP) — Morocco on Monday buried 5-year-old Rayan, a boy who was trapped in a well for days while rescuers struggled to reach him. The strenuous operation drew global attention, and mourners sent messages of condolences from around the world.
Rayan was pulled out Saturday from a 32-meter (105-foot) deep dry well where he had been trapped for five days. The funeral took place after noontime prayers on Monday in Ighran, a village in Morocco’s mountainous north.
The boy was laid to rest in a plot where other family members are buried at the hilltop Zawiya cemetery, six kilometers (four miles) away from the village. Scores of mourners from around Morocco flocked to the funeral to pay their respects.
In a sign of how Rayan’s fate had gripped the country, Moroccan King Mohammed VI followed the painstaking rescue efforts closely and expressed his condolences to the boy’s parents in a statement released by the palace over the weekend.
Security officers ringed the area. Meanwhile. villagers came to visit the parents’ house to pay their condolences. Two large tents were set up in front of the modest house, serving breakfast to visitors.
The child’s body was transferred in a helicopter to the military hospital in the capital Rabat. It is not yet clear if the boy underwent an autopsy.
Workers have now started filing in the massive hole and tunnel that they dug to try to rescue him.
The exact circumstances of how the boy fell in the well are unclear. The village of about 500 people is dotted with deep wells, many used for irrigating the cannabis crop that is the main source of income for many in the poor, remote, and arid region of Morocco’s Rif Mountains. Most of the wells have protective covers.
Nationwide, Moroccans had taken to social media to offer their hopes for the boy’s survival, using the hashtag #SaveRayan which brought global attention to the rescue efforts.
By MOSA’AB ELSHAMY and TARIK EL-BARAKAH I Associated Press
El-Barakah reported from Rabat, Morocco.