Rescuers battle to save young boy trapped down Afghan well

Rescuers battle to save young boy trapped down Afghan well
2 min read
17 February, 2022
Taliban officials were overseeing the rescue operation after the young boy fell into the well while trying to 'help' adults dig a new borehole.
Hundreds of curious villagers watched as rescuers tried to save the young boy [Getty]

Rescuers were desperately scrambling Thursday night to reach a five-year-old boy trapped for two days down a well in a remote southern Afghan village.

The operation in Shokak village, Zabul province, comes less than two weeks after a similar attempt to rescue a child from a Moroccan well gripped the world -- but ended with the boy found dead.

Officials from the Taliban's newly installed government were overseeing rescue operations in Shokak, around 120 kilometres (75 miles) northeast of Kandahar, watched by hundreds of curious villagers.

Video shared earlier on social media -- including by Taliban officials -- showed the boy, named Haidar, wedged in the well but able to move his arms and upper body.

"Are you okay my son?" his father can be heard saying.

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"Talk with me and don't cry, we are working to get you out."

"Okay, I'll keep talking," the boy replies in a plaintive voice.

The video was obtained by rescuers lowering a light and a camera down the narrow well by rope.

Officials said the boy slipped to the bottom of the 25-metre (80-foot) shaft, but was pulled to about 10-metres before becoming stuck.

Engineers using bulldozers then dug an open slit trench from an angle at the surface to try to reach the point where Haidar was trapped.

The boy's grandfather, 50-year-old Haji Abdul Hadi, told AFP Haidar fell down the well when he was trying to "help" the adults dig a new borehole in the drought-ravaged village.

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"I said 'no, not him'," Hadi said.

"One of the wells was open... (then) the boy fell down. He was yelling and yelling."

Hadi added that food and water were passed down to his grandson via a bucket attached to a rope.

"We gave him cake and water... he was eating them all," he said.

The operation employed similar engineering to what rescuers attempted in Morocco in early February, when a boy fell down a 32-metre well, but was found dead five days later.

The ordeal of "little Rayan" gained global attention and sparked an outpouring of sympathy online, with the Arabic Twitter hashtag #SaveRayan trending.