A five-year-old boy trapped for three days down a remote Afghan village well died moments after being pulled out alive, officials said Friday.
The child, named Haidar, slipped Tuesday to the bottom of a well being dug in Shokak, a parched village in Zabul province, around 400 kilometres southwest of the capital Kabul.
“With great sorrow, young Haidar is separated from us forever,” said Taliban interior ministry senior adviser Anas Haqqani, in a tweet echoed by several of his colleagues.
Zabul police spokesman Zabiullah Jawhar told AFP that Haidar was clinging to life when rescuers reached him.
“In the first minutes after the rescue operation was completed he was breathing, and the medical team gave him oxygen,” he said.
“When the medical team tried to carry him to the helicopter, he lost his life.”
The operation comes around two weeks after a similar attempt to rescue a boy from a Moroccan well gripped the world – but ended with the child found dead.
Haidar's grandfather, 50-year-old Haji Abdul Hadi, told AFP the boy fell down the well when he was trying to “help” adults dig a new borehole in the drought-ravaged village.
Officials said he slipped to the bottom of the narrow 25-metre (80-foot) shaft, and was pulled by rope to about 10-metres before becoming stuck.
Senior officials from the Taliban's newly installed government oversaw the rescue operation in Shokak, watched by hundreds of curious villagers.
Some Taliban officials posted videos of the tricky operation saying it was an example of how the new regime – widely criticised for rights abuses – would spare nothing to care for citizens.
Video shared Thursday on social media showed the boy wedged in the well but able to move his arms and upper body.
“Are you okay my son?” his father can be heard saying. “Talk with me and don't cry, we are working to get you out.”
“Okay, I'll keep talking,” the boy replies in a plaintive voice.
The video was obtained by rescuers lowering a light and a camera down the narrow well by rope.
Engineers using bulldozers dug an open slit trench from an angle at the surface to reach the point where Haidar was trapped.
A large rock blocked the final few metres, which workers used pickaxes to break on Friday morning.
The operation employed similar engineering to what rescuers attempted in Morocco in early February, when a boy fell down a 32-metre well, but was pulled out dead five days later.
The ordeal of “little Rayan” gained global attention and sparked an outpouring of sympathy online, with the Arabic Twitter hashtag #SaveRayan trending.
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