A massive rescue attempt to save a boy, believed to be aged 5, who fell into a deep well near a remote village in Afghanistan has ended tragically. The Taliban interior ministry confirmed on Friday that the boy, named Haider, who has been trapped since Tuesday, has died after speaking with rescuers for the last three days. “With great sorrow, young Haider is separated from us forever,” Taliban interior ministry senior adviser Anas Haqqani wrote in a tweet.
The boy fell as he helped his grandfather and other men dig a new borehole in the village of Shokak in the drought-struck Zabul province. Hundreds of villagers had gathered near the well to show support for the rescue efforts.
Video posted on social media captured conversations between the boy and his father via a camera attached to a rope that had been lowered down as workers dug a parallel trench in an effort to save him. “Are you OK my son?” his father was heard saying. “Talk with me and don’t cry, we are working to get you out.” The boy weakly responded, “OK, I’ll keep talking.”
The boy had been pulled half way up the 80-foot well with a rope before becoming wedged when part of the well wall collapsed. He could move his arms and head, but it was unclear if he had severe injuries.
Rescuers had nearly reached the child when they ran into a large underground boulder blocking their access to the well. Efforts to dig a second trench were underway when the child was confirmed dead. “The rescue team has faced a new obstacle and a rock is preventing them from digging more,” Zabul police spokesman Zabiullah Jawhar said Thursday. “We are concerned that dust could fall on the boy, and probably we would lose him, so we are working carefully.”
The tragedy is reminiscent of the tragic death of 4-year-old Rayan Awram, who died after falling into a well in Morocco earlier this month. Rescuers there had successfully dug a parallel hole to rescue the child, but he was dead when they finally reached him.