Morocco has been gripped by efforts to save a child who fell into a water well near the northern city of Chefchaouen.

The child, who local media have identified as a five-year-old boy named Rayan, was reportedly playing near the well in the town of Tamrout, 100km (62 miles) from Chefchaouen.

Rayan is believed to have fallen about 32m (104ft) through a narrow opening.

Rescue operations, led by Morocco’s Civil Protection Directorate, have been ongoing since Tuesday evening.

Despite suffering a significant fall, footage from a camera lowered into the well showed that the boy remains alive and conscious, though he appeared to be suffering from some minor head injuries.

Massive rescue effort underway in Morocco to save 5 years old boy stuck down well
Massive rescue effort underway in Morocco to save 5 years old boy stuck down well

Rescue workers have lowered an oxygen mask, food and water into the well and a medical team is also on site, ready to treat the boy. A helicopter has also arrived at the scene to bring him to hospital once he has been extracted from the well.

Thousands of people have been watching footage of the rescue on social media, and a large group of onlookers have gathered at the scene.

Local media reported that provincial authorities are overseeing rescue attempts and that dozens of police, auxiliary forces, Royal Gendarmerie and civil protection officers are now involved in the operation.

Mohamed Yassin El Quahabi, president of the Chefchaouen Association of Caving and Mountain Activities, has been helping with the rescue and told the BBC that the narrowness of the well has hampered rescue efforts.

He added that several attempts by local volunteers and rescue workers to gain access through the well’s opening have already failed.

Residents watch in concern as civil defense and local authorities dig in a hill as they attempt to rescue a 5 year old boy who fell into a hole near the town of Bab Berred near Chefchaouen, Morocco, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. (AP Photo)
The boy has been in the well for two days as rescue efforts have so far failed (Photo: AP)

“The problem of this rescue is that the hole diameter is very, very small, about 25cm (9.8 inches),” Mr El Quahabi said. “At the depth of 28 metres it became smaller so we couldn’t reach him.”

Pictures from the scene show five bulldozers digging a large area parallel to the well’s outer shaft to try and work around the narrow structure.

By Thursday afternoon officials told the local media outlet, Le360, that that rescue workers had less than nine metres (30ft) left to dig to reach the boy.

Mr El Quahabi told the BBC that this is now the only way rescue workers will be able to reach Rayan.

But authorities remain concerned that any interference with the well could accidentally hurt the five-year-old by triggering a landslide.