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Spanish miners find body of Julen Rosello trapped in borehole

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Spanish miners find body of Julen Rosello trapped in borehole
An image of Julen broadcast on local media in Spain. Photo: Facebook
08:45 CET+01:00
Hopes that two-year-old Julen Rosello would be found alive after 12 days trapped in a borehole deep underground ended early on Saturday when Spanish miners reached his lifeless body.

Miners had been desperately digging a horizontal tunnel to reach the point where Julen was thought to have become trapped after falling down the hole 12 days ago.

As they finally broke through the earth to the borehole they made the discovery that Julen's family and all of Spain had feared.

The two-year-old had not survived.

There had been hope that against all odds, two-year-old Julen Rosello might have somehow be alive.

That he had survived not just the fall down a narrow borehole to the depth of at least 80 meters, but managed to exist for a full 12 days trapped in the earth without warmth, food or water.

It was the longest of shots, but a hope that was clung onto by two desperate parents, Vicky and Jose, whose anguished faces have been seen in newspaper reports and rolling television news since it first emerged that their two-year-old son had fallen down the narrow opening of an illegal borehole while out on a family picnic.

It was a hope shared not just by Spain, a nation gripped in the drama of massive rescue operation staged on a hillside in southern Andalusia but across the world, as social media filled with prayers and messages of solidarity sent from far and wide.

Even the rescue teams, scientific men who had put their brains and expertise to the task of finding the most expedient way to get to the bottom of that hole and find Julen, had publicly expressed the belief that there was a chance, however slim, of finding the toddler alive.

But as the days wore on, as setbacks continued to slow the painstaking efforts to reach the child, hope dimmed and it was finally extinguished entirely early on Saturday when after working non-stop for 24 hours, a team of specialist miners broke through into the narrow space containing the two-year-old.

"Unfortunately at 1:25 am the rescue team reached the spot where they were looking for Julen and found the lifeless body of the little one," the central government's representative in the southwestern region of Andalusia, Alfonso Rodriguez Gomez de Celis, wrote on Twitter.
 
It was here, curled up in the earth at a depth of around 80 meters from the surface that Julen's lifeless body was discovered. His corpse was brought up to the surface by members of the Asturian miners rescue brigade where Julen's parents were anxiously waiting. A hearse then arrived at the site to take his body to a funeral home.
 
A forensic team will now study Julen's body to determine the exact cause of death and whether he survived even the fall to the bottom of the 100 metre borehole which was no wider than 25cm.

The tragedy of Julen's death comes less than two years after his older brother, Oliver, died of a heart attack aged just three years old.

 "All of Spain feels the infinite sadness of Julen's family. We have followed closely every step to reach him," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wrote on Twitter.  "We will always appreciate the tireless effort of those who searched for 
him during all these days."
 
Spain's King Felipe VI also used Twitter to extend his "deepest condolences to Julen's whole family". 
 
The unprecedented rescue operation has been fraught with complications that have caused delay upon delay as Julen's distraught parents and relatives stood by.

Explosives experts and elite miners were just some of those taking part in the operation, with the hope Julen would still be alive after all this time.

Rescuers had not been able to get to Julen via the well he fell down because it is blocked by a layer of earth, sand and stones believed to have been dislodged when he tumbled into the shaft.

They decided to dig a vertical shaft parallel to the well, 60 metres deep, which was finished late on Monday.   

The idea was to secure the shaft with tubes then take elite miners down in a specially made cage to start digging a horizontal tunnel to the site where they believe the child is.

But the tubes designed to secure the shaft didn't fit, so they had to widen it, which delayed the operation still further.   

Eventually, they succeeded and the miners spent the last 24 hours digging the horizontal tunnel, taking turns in teams of two until they eventually found him.
 
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