Europe

Spain Totalán search: Hair found in search for boy in well

Borehole that toddler fell into, 13 Jan 19 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The boy's hair was found amongst debris pulled out of the hole on Sunday

Rescuers trying to find a two-year-old boy missing in southern Spain since Sunday have found hair inside a 100m (330ft) borehole and DNA tests confirm it belongs to the child.

Julen disappeared during a family outing on Sunday and his father has described how he fell through the hole.

Two tunnels are to be dug adjacent to the hole in an attempt to reach him.

"It gives us a degree of certainty that the child is there, in that well," said local official Gómez de Celis.

What do we know?

No signs of life have been detected from the well near Totalán to the east of Málaga, but the boy's father, José, has said, "We are clinging to the hope that he isn't dead."

He has also spoken out at insinuations that the boy may not have fallen down the well, insisting "we had a perfect view of how he fell through the hole".

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Workers at the borehole were preparing two tunnels adjacent to the well

Julen's parents José and Victoria have experienced tragedy before.

Residents where they live say their three-year-old son, Oliver, died suddenly less than two years ago because of a heart problem.

The hair was found among debris removed from the well when rescuers reached the site on Sunday and has since been compared with DNA samples from the boy's drinking bottle as well as his family.

A small bag of sweets was spotted by a camera sent down the hole, but soil blocked the cameras from going further down.

How is the search progressing?

The problem for rescuers is that the hole is a mere 25cm in diameter, making access difficult and hazardous. They have been anxious not to loosen any earth in case it falls on the boy.

The borehole had apparently been left uncovered, although the businessman who had originally had it dug a month earlier insisted that he had sealed it.

Work was under way on Wednesday on two tunnels either side of the shaft.

One is a vertical shaft parallel to the borehole, the other is described as a more horizontal tunnel using the gradient of the hill to reach the area where the child is thought to be.

The boy is thought to be lying at a depth of 80m and rescuers said on Wednesday morning they hoped to reach him in 24 to 48 hours. A key part of their work will be in pinpointing his exact location.

Officials in charge of the work made clear they were working on both tunnels "without a rest", as well as removing soil from the original borehole.

The lateral tunnel is seen as the safest method of getting to him but a platform has had to be constructed to allow machines to level the ground before excavation can start.

Specialist mining crews have been called in from northern Spain and a Swedish team of experts has also been asked to help in the rescue.

The Swedes were called in by rescuers in Chile in 2010 to locate the exact point where 33 miners were trapped underground in the Atacama desert.

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