Hour by agonising hour, the parents of Julen Rosello waited for news from 70 meters below the soil. But even as dawn broke over the hillside in Totalán, they learnt that they were still hours from learning the fate of their son.
All night long miners worked in teams of two in a last-ditch attempt to reach a two-year-old boy who fell into a well in Andalusia in southern Spain 12 days ago.
Work carried on at the rescue site throughout the night. Photo: AFP
The team of eight experts took it in turns to be lowered into the depths in a metal capsule down a shaft drilled parallel to the narrow borehole that swallowed Julen while he was playing during a Sunday picnic with his family.
By morning, authorities announced that the miners had dug just 1.5 meters of the 4 meters needed to reach the child.
Crawling on their hands and knees and using tools that included a shovel, pickaxe and pneumatic drill the miners from a specialist underground rescue brigade in Asturias worked on the horizontal, four-metre (13-foot) tunnel to access the well where the boy is trapped from the side.
These are the eight miners from a specialist rescue team – Brigada de Salvamento Minero de Hunosa – based in Asturias who will take it turns to tunnel to reach #julen in the last stage of #totalan rescue pic.twitter.com/MWAGxBwcTT
— Fiona Govan (@fifimadrid) January 24, 2019
It is believed the boy is trapped about 70 metres deep in the well, which has a diameter of about 25 centimetres.
The well was unmarked at the time of the accident and regional authorities in Andalusia said the necessary permission had not been sought before it was dug.
Rescuers said they have not lost hope of reaching Julen alive, even there had been no contact with the boy since his fall while playing as his parents prepared a picnic nearby, in the town of Totalan.
They had abandoned an earlier plan to reach the boy with an angled tunnel, due to repeated collapses and landslides.
A vigil was held late on Thursday night in the village of Totalán where locals prayed for Julen.
Villagers in Totalán during a vigil held on Thursday night. Photo: AFP