Two-year-old Julen (pictured with his family), has been trapped down a well for five days
Heavy trucks today brought drilling equipment and giant pipes to the scene where a two-year-old boy vanished down a deep well in Spain.
Rescue workers are preparing to dig a vertical tunnel in an effort to reach Julen Rosello, who has been trapped in the hole in southern Spain since Sunday.
‘The priority now is the works on the vertical tunnel,’ said a spokeswoman for the regional government in Malaga.
Officials said on Thursday they were not losing hope of finding the boy alive, but the operation would take at least a few days.
Engineers will begin drilling a second tunnel after they have had time to install a platform for the heavy machinery.
Julen fell into the well which is just 25 cm (10 inches) wide and 350ft deep as his family walked through a private estate in Totalan, Malaga.
Julen’s devastated parents Jose and Vicky, both 29, have spent most of the past week at the scene, sleeping on inflatable mattresses inside a tent, although they were persuaded to return to their home in the Malaga neighbourhood of El Palo briefly on Tuesday night to shower and pack a change of clothes.
Heavy machinery arrives to the place where rescue teams are working around the clock to find two-year-old Julen, who has been trapped inside a well since last Sunday
The rescue operation is now focusing on the constructing of a vertical tunnel running parallel to the borehole after work on a horizontal tunnel faced technical difficulties
Officials said on Thursday they were not losing hope of finding the boy alive, but the operation would take at least a few days
The case has captivated Spain and the whole country is holding its breath for the outcome, not least because Julen’s parents were hit by another family tragedy in 2017.
According to media reports, their three-year-old son Oliver died suddenly while walking along a beach not far from Totalan after suffering a heart attack believed to be linked to a congenital heart defect.
Authorities confirmed strands of the boys hair were found in the borehole
Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska thanked public and private entities on Friday for ‘putting all their means at our disposal’ in what he said was a very complex rescue operation.
A bid to free Julen by digging a horizontal hole from a nearby hillside failed yesterday when it hit heavy stone, which engineers could not break through without endangering him.
The leading engineer in the search, Angel Garcia, said creating an alternative access point involved days of digging work and technical surveying of terrains that normally would take months.
He warned the work was ‘extremely difficult’ and could be hampered by rain that is forecast for coming days.
Maria Gamez, the Spanish government’s representative in the Malaga province, vowed the search would continue until the boy is saved.
‘We are not going to stop even one minute,’ Ms Gamez said.
‘Nobody in the rescue team is putting in doubt that we will bring him out, and we all remain confident that he will be alive.’
Heavy trucks today brought drilling equipment and giant pipes to the scene in Malaga, southern Spain
This photo posted by local firefighters show the small 15in-wide hole Julen fell down on Sunday afternoon
No vocal contact has been made with Julen.
Footage of the tunnel shows a blockage of earth, sand and stones around three-quarters of the way down the 350ft well – believed to have been caused by a mini-landslide during the youngster’s plunge – which is preventing rescue teams reaching him.
The toddler is believed to be underneath and the discovery of several strands of his hair by rescuers appears to confirm that theory. But there is no way to tell whether or not he is alive.
Mr Garcia said there was ventilation in at least the upper half of the well. ‘Beyond the blockage there may be some or not,’ he added.
Creating an alternative access point involves days of digging work and technical surveying of terrains that normally would take months
Julen had been on a walk with his family in the countryside when he vanished down the hole, which his father says was not properly covered
‘We’re dead, but with the hope an angel will help us get him out alive,’ Julen’s father Jose said yesterday. ‘It feels like it’s lasted for months.’
Jose has said the borehole – on family-owned land – was made by a prospector at the request of his cousin’s boyfriend last month but no water had been found.
The prospector has told police he complied with the law by sealing the hole after it was made but Julen’s family say it had simply been covered with stones that weren’t properly laid.
Julen’s distraught parents Joke and Vicky have already lost a three-year-old son Oliver, who died from a heart attack in May 2017
The rescue operation is unprecedented in Spain given how difficult it is.
Dr. Werner Weigl, Vice President of the Bavarian Chamber of Civil Engineers warned that as the location of Julen is not clear, steering the shaft into the unknown could be dangerous as could the vibrations from the drilling.
Among the nine companies taking part in operations is Stockholm Precision Tools AB, a Swedish company that in 2010 contributed to the spectacular rescue of 33 Chilean miners trapped 69 days underground.
A bulldozer moves into place as engineers prepare to dig two new tunnels at the site in the countryside north of Malaga
Footage has emerged from inside the tunnel separating rescuers from a two-year-old boy who fell down the borehole in a freak accident on Sunday