Europe

Spain rescuers struggle to find two-year-old boy in deep borehole

Borehole that toddler fell into, 13 Jan 19 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Firefighters are probing the narrow borehole with a camera

Spanish rescuers are struggling to find a two-year-old boy who fell down a borehole more than 100m (328ft) deep near the southern city of Málaga.

The operation has gone on day and night since the boy disappeared on Sunday afternoon during a family outing.

On Monday night, rescuers began using a suction machine to extract earth and mud from the hole, dug to get water. The shaft is just 25cm (10in) wide.

The family lost another son in an accident less than two years ago.

A camera probe has found a bag of sweets and a cup belonging to the missing boy, named only as Julen.

At 73m (240ft) the camera encountered an earth blockage in the shaft, dug into slate in a hilly plantation near the village of Totalán. Such shafts are dug in the hope of extracting water or oil.

Rescuers have not picked up any hopeful sign from the boy.

The family live in El Palo, a nearby district, and in 2017 Julen's older brother, Oliver, died aged three of a heart condition.

More than 100 firefighters, police and other specialists are at the scene. They have inserted tubing to shore up the well.

The boy's father raised the alarm at 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT) on Sunday. Psychologists are now counselling the desperate parents. Anxious neighbours described Julen as a lively boy who loved his tricycle.

The rescuers have begun digging an oblique tunnel through the hillside, hoping to reach the boy that way. But currently efforts are mainly focused on removing earth from the borehole.

Another option is to dig a shaft parallel to the borehole, but there are fears that that could dislodge more earth from the shaft's sides.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The rescue effort began on Sunday and has continued non-stop

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