When rescue teams finally found a young Moroccan boy who had been trapped in a well for days, he was already dead. The five-year-old was trapped 100 feet underground for four days.
The retrieval of his body marked the end of a desperate attempt to save his life.
Rescue attempts for the small boy had caught the attention of the North African nation and the rest of the world.
Rayan Awram fell a distance of 32 meters (105ft) into a well just outside their home in Ighran village. The location is found in the northern province of Chefchaouen.
The accident happened on Tuesday evening, setting a desperate fight to save his life in motion.
Rescuers dug vertically and horizontally while trying to avoid causing a landslide before they eventually succeeded on Saturday.
As Rayan's body was retrieved from the well, the crowds gathered at the scene applauded. The rescue was filmed, and the boy was quickly rushed to the doctors for treatment, with well-wishers hoping his life would be saved.
He was wrapped in a golden-colored blanket when brought to the surface using a tunnel explicitly made to help rescue him. The medical team on standby had entered the tunnel with a stretcher and emerged with the boy more than an hour later.
Later, the authorities said that the boy's life was beyond saving. Resuscitation attempts had failed, and it was further confirmed that it was already too late by the time the rescuers got to him.
Before Rayan was brought to the surface, his distraught and still hopeful parents were taken to an ambulance. After the boy's tragic death was confirmed, King Mohammed sent condolences.
On social media, many people have been sending the boy their tributes using the SaveRayan hashtag. A well-wisher wrote:
"Rest in pace, tears stream around the world for Rayan tonight."
They went on to add: "no regrets please from his rescuers because they honestly did everything they could to save that little boy!"
As various rescue teams tried to rescue the boy, the world held its breath. There were concerns that the cave could collapse at any time during the intense four-day rescue operation.
The Moroccan media had said earlier that resuscitation experts had joined the rescue teams in the tunnel. That led to rumors that the boy needed urgent medical attention.
Nevertheless, experts claimed that there was no way to confirm if the boy was still alive since he had been in the well for five days.
Before then, the boy had been given water and oxygen. Nevertheless, it is not clear if the boy used these resources to keep himself going.
During the final moments when rescuers got ready to get into the tunnel in their last attempt to bring the boy to the surface, onlookers cheered, sang religious songs and chanted "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest).
On the morning of the day Rayan was pulled out, Abdelhadi Temrani, who was heading the rescue committee, explained that there was no way of determining if the boy was still alive at that point. All he could do was hope the boy was still alive.
The rescuers had made a massive trench in the hill next to the well, which left a gigantic open hole.
On Saturday morning, the team was digging horizontally in the direction of the well.
PVC tubes were also being installed as a safeguard measure against landslides as they tried to get the boy out of the well.
The cold had also taken hold in the mountainous and remote area of the Rif, which is about 700 meters above sea level. This increased fears about Rayan's chances of survival in the deep well he was trapped in.
On the day he was rescued, Abdesalam Makoudi reported that they were "almost there." He also said that the rescue team was getting tired but was still determined to complete the mission successfully.
Experts had used a rope to send the boy oxygen and water. They had also sent a camera that could help monitor his progress.
Still, they did not offer any updates on his condition.
A day before his body was found, video footage showed that he was still at the bottom of the well. He also appeared to be breathing as he lay down at the bottom of the deep shaft.
His mother, Wassima Kharchich, with tears in her eyes, told a local TV station at the time that her wish was that Rayan would be alive and safe by the time he emerged from that well. Rayan's family had gone looking for him when they discovered he had fallen down a well.
His father said he was repairing the well when his son fell inside. On Friday, he looked nervous as rescuers tried to get him out.
He talked to the media, saying that he hoped that his son would make it out of the ordeal alive. He also thanked all the people trying to save the boy and those offering their support.
A lot of people had arrived at the scene, mainly locals, to assist and watch the rescue efforts. Moroccans took to social media throughout the country, expressing their hope that the boy would make it out of the well alive and well.
They started a hashtag #SaveRayan, which helped the rescue mission gain attention globally.
Thousands had come to the site, and the reporters at the scene claimed that the tension there was palpable. Some of these people were cheering in their attempts to motivate the rescue teams.
The shaft the boy fell into was just 18 inches wide, which means it was too narrow to allow the rescuers to get to him. Making the shaft wider was also not an option since that came with many risks.
The only option was to use earth-movers to dig a wide slope into the hill and attempt to reach the boy from a horizontal direction.
In the end, the site ended up looking like a construction site. Engineers and topographers had to be involved, and the fact that they had to deal with a combination of both rocky and sandy soils only made their job more complicated.
Civil Defense personnel had to be used using a rope with their red helmets during the dangerous mission.
The rescuers worked nonstop, even in the dark of the night. They had to rely on powerful floodlights that seemed to give the scene an even more sinister feel.
They were digging a horizontal tunnel to get to the boy.
Initially, the rescuers relied on five bulldozers to dig vertically to a depth of about 31 meters.
On Friday, the crew began working on the horizontal tunnel, finally reaching the boy. Topographical engineers were called to assist at this point.
The digging had to stop for some time due to fears that the ground around the well was about to collapse. Later, the work resumed.
Medical experts were also on the scene, including resuscitation experts, to help the boy as soon as he was taken out of the well. There was also a helicopter close by to take him to the closest hospital.
Previously, the Moroccan government had said that all possible effort was being made to rescue the boy.
The whole affair evoked a lot of sympathy from internet users, and the #SaveRayan hashtag started to trend throughout North Africa.
One of the internet users wrote that rescuers were moving a mountain to save Rayan. This well-wisher hoped that they would be successful in their noble mission.
The unique circumstances facing the boy drew many people to the scene. There was a long line of parked cars on the roads around the village.
Some supporters were camping at the location, waiting for developments.
Police reinforcements were provided since the onlookers would get in the way of the rescue efforts. This also made the government ask the crowds to allow the rescuers to do their job and save the boy.
However, some of the onlookers felt that their presence was beneficial. One such person admitted to having been there for three days and insisted that others like him would not leave until Rayan was taken out of the well.
In some ways, the accident is similar to an incident in Spain in 2019. A two-year-old perished after falling into an abandoned well 70 meters deep.
Julien Rosello's body was recovered after 13 days. The well Julien fell into was just 25 centimeters wide.
Based on images from the rescue scene, several diggers were seen digging deep into the earth from several directions to reach the boy. Small crowds were also collecting on the pit's edge the rescuers were digging.
There was also footage that showed the rescue team sending cameras down the well to monitor the boy and see how he was doing. Floodlights were also turned on at night so that the rescue efforts could not be paused at any moment.
Le360 said that there were just nine meters left before the rescuers could reach the boy and bring him to the ground.
When Rayan's father spoke to Le360, he said that the boy fell into the well while working on it.
The man leading the rescue team, Abdelhabi Temrani, said that the diameter was too small. Additionally, the nature of the soil made any attempts to widen it far too dangerous.
For that reason, undertaking major excavation was the only way to solve the problem.
After the SaveRayan hashtag went viral, there was an outpouring of sympathy online.
According to a Twitter user, "The heart of every Moroccan is with this angel."
People have been comparing Rayan's case to what happened with Jessica McClure Morales, famous as Baby Jessica. She fell into a well in her aunt's backyard in Texas in October 1987 when she was just 18 months old.
She had fallen into a 22-foot well, and rescuers worked for 58 hours trying to free her.
The rescuers dug horizontally to get to the girl, just as with Rayan since the well had an 8-inch. They had to get through rock with the help of waterjet cutting.
When the rescuers finally got to the girl, she was stuck in an awkward position with one of her legs above her forehead. Jessica was covered in dirt and bruises, and her right palm was attached to her face.
Today, Jessica is 35. She does not have a good recollection of her ordeal while stuck in the pipe.
She does not even remember the 15 operations she underwent after the incident very well.
She still has a scar running from her hairline to the bridge of her nose. The scar shows where her head was rubbed against the well's wall.
Jessica lost a toe due to gangrene because of the leg stuck above her head while in the well.