TOTALAN, Spain (Reuters) – Rescuers in southern Spain worked through the night as efforts to reach a two-year-old boy trapped in a deep well since Sunday entered a sixth day in an operation that has gripped the nation.
The mission to save the child has triggered an outpouring of public support as rescuers struggle with the challenge of reaching the toddler safely and bringing heavy equipment up steep access roads.
“It’s absolutely amazing the energy that we see here and the desire to get that boy out of there,” Angel Vidal, one of the engineers involved in the rescue, said on Friday evening.
The boy, Julen, fell into the borehole, which is just 25 cm (10 inches) wide and 100 metres (yards) deep, as his family walked through a private estate in Totalan, Malaga.
Officials have been unable to find signs of life but say they are working on the basis that the child is still alive.
Trucks brought drilling equipment and giant pipes to the site on Friday. Drilling of the first of two tunnels that will be made to reach the boy is expected to begin at midday local time on Saturday and take around 15 hours, officials said.
Residents of the town have held vigils for Julen and in support of his family. Spanish media say the boy’s parents suffered another tragedy in 2017 when their three-year-old son died suddenly of health problems while walking along a beach.
“Be strong, Julen. Totalan is with you,” read a handmade banner hung on the roadside near the rescue site.
“We are living some incredibly difficult hours for relatives, friends and neighbours (of the family) and we want to send them our support in this moment,” government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa said on Friday in a news conference.
(Reporting by Miguel Pereira; Writing by Sam Edwards)